Lincolnshire farmer defies stubble burning ban

Burning field
Image caption Stubble burning was banned in 1993

A Lincolnshire farmer has set fire to part of a field as part of a campaign to overturn the ban on stubble burning.

Mark Pettitt from Gainsborough claims that burning the remains of harvested crops is effective in reducing weeds and pests, and in boosting crop growth the following year.

The practice was outlawed in 1993 over environmental and safety concerns.

The BBC has contacted the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) for a comment.

More on this and other Lincolnshire stories.

Mr Pettitt said that most farmers would support its reintroduction to try to control black grass weed, which depletes crops by drawing essential nutrients from the soil.

'Losing the battle'

"We can't control it with the chemicals," he said.

"We cannot control it with the ploughing or cultivation. Absolutely everything we try is failing and we are losing the battle."

Mr Pettitt said that burning should be brought back under a licence system with proper environmental controls and safety measures.

He added that he was aware his test burning was illegal but said he was "prepared to take the risk".

"If I had a visit from somebody to give me a slap on the wrist, then so be it."

The offence carries a maximum fine of £5,000.

Image caption Mark Pettitt burned a section of a field at his farm near Gainsborough

More on this story