BARNSLEY Council has dismissed claims numerous fires over the summer were spreading quickly due to grass not being cut regularly.

The response from the local authority comes after serious blazes on Woodland Drive, near Kingstone, and near Netherwood Academy.

Residents at the latter believed the fire spread quicker than usual due to the long, dry grass on the site - but council bosses say the area has been set aside as part of a ‘rewilding scheme’.

Coun James Higginbottom, cabinet spokesperson for environment and highways, said: “We have seen locally and nationally the damage carelessly or deliberately starting fires on grass land can cause.

“The land behind Netherwood Academy is one of the areas set aside as part of the government’s Nature Improvement Plan to encourage biodiversity and local nature to grow.

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“To encourage wildlife, these plots are cut less frequently.

“This year, we have also actively supported rewilding programmes in several locations across Barnsley to further encourage biodiversity and reduce our environmental impact.”