Of course, by now, we know that the Saddleworth Moor fire has been devastating. It’s been on the news daily with the apocalyptic style images. Firefighters have been tackling the blaze for well over a week.
The fire is thought to have been started by the extreme dry weather drying the grass and it self-igniting. Although some news sources have blamed off road bikers of unwittingly setting alight the incredibly dry foliage.
The reason the fire has happened aside, do you really realise how devastating this disaster is? Have you considered the cost financially, the demolition of wildlife reserves and also the added pressure on the NHS as more Mancunians are admitted with breathing difficulties aggravated by the smoke from the fire?
Risk To Homes
Already there have been hundreds of people evacuated from their homes because of the risk. This upheaval is both financially straining for these people, but also emotionally unsettling.
Those who have been told to leave their homes have to cope with the stress of potentially losing their homes and possessions. This is traumatic to even consider.
Those who have not been evacuated still face the closure of schools and workplaces. This will cause parents more financial strain as they have to take time off work to look after their kids, but also loss of earnings to school staff. Those who can not work will lose their expected earnings.
Firefighters Are Battling The Blaze
Hats off to the firefighters currently tackling the blaze. They are hot, sticky and muscular (oh yes!) but fighting a fire with no shade and extremely difficult conditions for accessing water and supplies is a tough challenge.
Whilst physically the job they are doing is very taxing, financially this fire will be costing the public an enormous sum of money. Every firefighter needs paying for his or her days work. This combined with the cost of ferrying in more water, equipment hire and transport costs to get to the scene – this becomes expensive very rapidly.
They’ve Called In The Army
With the risk to property growing the army have been called in to help tackle the fire. With their added man power (which will all also need paying for) they bring more tools and resources. These are often very expensive to use – Chinook helicopters are being used and these are estimated to cost over £5200 per hour to use.
All of the army with their personnel and equipment will require transport in and out of Saddleworth Moor on a daily basis adding further costs to the operation.
Winter Hill Radio and TV Transmitters
These extremely expensive transmitters are under threat from the fire. If they do perish to the blaze up to 8 million people could be left with limited TV and Radio transmissions. This is frustrating but reinstalling these transmitters will be time consuming and expensive.
Long term expenses
This type of catastrophe doesn’t stop once the fire is extinguished. Long term effects of this type of disaster will affect the landscape, the wildlife and will even devastate tourism in the area for years.
Local Tourism Will Be Affected
People from all over the world visit Saddleworth Moor to view the scenery and also to go hiking and climbing. Local towns and villages thrive on this trade.
With the vegetation and scenes destroyed many tourists will abandon any plans they may have had to visit and instead take their trade elsewhere.
Swathes Of Decimated Vegetation
The reason the vegetation on the moors is so spectacular is because of the huge peat formation. This area is typically known for bogs and wetland rather than a huge expanse of dry, flammable grasses.
The effects of this fire will be devastating to the local vegetation. The moors are known for their rare plant species such as the cloudberry. But Cottongrass is the one of the most recognisable features of the moors. With such a huge quantity of the Cottongrass destroyed it will take significant investment to resew such a large are of land.
Wildlife Has Been Displaced Or Killed
Serious consideration needs to be done about the wildlife that has been either been killed or displaced by the fire.
Many species of bird found on the moors are endangered and known to nest on the ground. As a result, most of this years bird hatchlings/eggs will have been killed by the fire. Such a huge loss of life will significantly affect the local ecosystem.
It is generally hoped that some mammals may have been able to outrun the fire. This however does not necessarily mean they will survive the fire. In their new unfamiliar surroundings, they may not be able to source enough food to survive and may be open to predators until they can recreate habitats.
Those who don’t find a new source of water in order to survive will perish within days of their relocation.
Insects are a vital part of the ecosystem too. Most will have been killed in the flames.
Alternative Farmland For Livestock
Farmers who have had to relocate their livestock will have already endured huge costs associated with transporting such large amounts of animals without prior planning.
However, their costs have only just begun. Many may find themselves in the position where farming is no longer a financially viable option for them.
The fire is going to cost the taxpayers an awful lot of time, money and planning before restoring the moors to their previous glory can even begin.
Voluntary organisations will be needed to help rejuvenate this wonderful landscape and encourage wildlife and vegetation to thrive once again in this area.