Muirburn licensing

NatureScot can license muirburn outside the standard season, which runs from 1 October to 15 April inclusive.

The Hill Farming Act 1946 (as amended) covers the burning of heather and any other vegetation on moorland, including plants such as gorse.

Standard muirburn season

Muirburn season runs from 1 October to 15 April inclusive in Scotland. This applies at all altitudes.

The standard season can be extended to 30 April at the landowner’s discretion.

Muirburn is thus only carried out when the risk of damage to economic, social and environmental interests is at a minimum.

The Muirburn Code sets out muirburn best practice for land managers. 

Licensed out-of-season muirburn

In exceptional cases, we may license out-of-season muirburn (1 May to 30 September) for a specific purpose that couldn’t be achieved by burning in season.

You can apply for a licence to carry out muirburn out of season to:

  • conserve, restore, enhance or manage the natural environment
  • conduct research
  • protect public safety

Examples might include burning to:

  • create a suitable seedbed at the appropriate time of year for the natural regeneration of nearby native woodland
  • research the effects of muirburn on dry heath in September

How to apply

Fill in the application form and email it to [email protected]

Download the Licence application form – out of season muirburn

Application to undertake muirburn out of season: Guidance notes for applicants

Supplementary information for licence applicants: Muirburn during the bird breeding season

Licence changes and renewals

You should get in touch if you wish to amend a licence.

Find out about adding persons to a licence.

You must also remember to contact us to renew your licence. Licences aren’t renewed automatically.

Licence returns

It is a condition of each licence that a return is submitted. Please refer to your licence for the return information required and send to [email protected] clearly stating your name and licence number in the subject.

Find out more

Data Protection notice

If you already have a licence number, include it in the subject line of your email, or have it to hand when you call.


If you already have a licence number, include it in the subject line of your email, or have it to hand when you call.

Licensing Team

01463 725364

[email protected]

Last updated: