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Muirburn and Heather Swiping

Option closed to new applications


The aim of this Option is to create blocks of heather at different growth stages through a planned programme of burning or swiping.

What this will achieve

This Option will keep the moorland open and create a mosaic of heather patches of different ages. This will benefit Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) species including Skylark, Black Grouse, Northern Brown Argus butterfly and Juniper.

What you can do


You must prepare a Muirburn Plan and carry it out. The plan must identify:

  • the total area of moorland within the IACS business
  • areas unsuitable for burning (fire free areas) marked on a map
  • areas suitable for burning and frequency of rotation
  • the average number of hectares you plan to burn each year, the proposed methods of burning/swiping and the resources available to manage muirburn successfully
  • firebreaks and access routes for fire-fighting

All muirburn must follow the Muirburn Code. The supplement to the Muirburn Code - Prescribed Burning on Moorland - provides useful hints and tips for drawing up your muirburn plan and carrying out your burning programme. On designated sites, we may require you to follow extra conditions to reduce the risk of damaging sensitive habitats.

Do not burn within the fire-free areas identified in your plan and take reasonable precautions to prevent fire spreading accidentally. Justification must be given for planned fires outwith 0.4 and 1.0 hectares in size, and fires should be no more than 50 metres wide. [Note that the Moorland Grazing on Uplands and Peatlands Option further restricts the width of muirburn fires. If you carry out the Muirburn option on land which is also under the "Moorland Grazing on Uplands and Peatlands" option then the muirburn strips must be no more than 20m wide.]

We will pay you based on the average area you plan to burn each year. Be realistic about what you can achieve. Take account of the number of days suitable for burning and people and equipment available to control fires safely, as well as the area suitable for burning and the frequency of rotation.

We will expect you to make reasonable progress with your burning programme. In some years you will not be able to burn because of the weather conditions and in good years you will need to burn a little more to compensate. If you do not make reasonable progress, we may withhold payments until you catch up. Areas burned accidentally do not count as progress towards your burning programme.

You may carry out heather swiping as an alternative to muirburn or to create firebreaks when you are burning. The area swiped will count towards your burning programme. The heather swiping season is from 1 September to 15 April inclusive.

When filling in your online Proposal for this Option, you must enter a separate row for each FID involved. For each FID, you must enter the average amount you intend to burn/swipe each year within that FID (not the total amount over 5 years). For example, if you plan to burn a total of 30 ha within a single FID during the course of a five year contract, you would enter a single row for this particular FID and enter 6 ha against it (the average area you intend to burn each year).

Who can apply

All land managers are eligible to apply for this Option.

Eligibility criteria

You can enter large blocks of dry heather moorland where muirburning is appropriate.

Land receiving payments for similar management under other agri-environment schemes is not eligible under this Option.

Please see the Definitions of Land Types page for more details.

What costs could be supported

For a comprehensive list of Capital Items click here. Any cost claimed must be fully justified.

When completing your Proposal, you can select the appropriate capital item(s) from the dropdown list of standard cost capital items for this Option.

In addition to these capital items, financial support of up to 100% of eligible actual costs is available in respect of the following:

Please note that this capital item will not appear in the dropdown list of Standard Cost capital items for this Option and will need to be entered manually in the box for Actual Cost capital items. Only costs for the types of capital works listed above should be entered in the Actual Cost capital items box for this Option. Any other costs entered cannot be considered for funding.

To ensure value for money we require you to provide 2 competitive quotes for any capital items applied for which are based on actual cost. If, however, you are seeking grant support towards something so specialised it is only available through 1 source then we would accept 1 quote. Please see the guidance on quotes and estimates for more information.

Rate of support

This is a 5-year commitment. We will pay you £67 per hectare based on the average number of hectares you plan to burn each year. We will pay at the end of each year.


The inspector will check the requirements (as detailed above under 'what you can do') of the Option are being met, by a visual assessment on the day of inspection.

Beneficiaries must comply with the requirements of cross compliance and the minimum requirements for fertiliser and plant protection products. You must also comply with the requirements to avoid damaging any features of historic or archaeological interest, and follow Scottish Ministers' guidance for the protection of such areas or features (detailed in links below).

The following is a brief overview of the inspection procedures, for a full explanation please see links below:

Inspectors will check:

  • Muirburn plan and map
  • No Muirburn in areas unsuitable for burning (fire-free areas) as marked on your map
  • Amount of muirburning carried out against proposed amount detailed in your muirburn plan
  • The Muirburn code has been followed.

List of links to relevant technical guidance