As there is no national legislation in place to control the release of sky lanterns and balloons, the Countryside Alliance says it is up to local authorities to ‘take the lead’
A ban on releasing sky lanterns and balloons by two councils has been described as “encouraging” — as it is hoped more will follow suit.
Lincolnshire district councils West Lindsey and South Kesteven voted to ban the release of sky lanterns and balloons on sites they own or operate, at meetings held on 20 and 21 January respectively.
A spokesman for the RSPCA told H&H the charity “warmly welcomes” the decision.
“For some time the RSPCA has been calling for an end to the release of this ‘sky litter’. It’s encouraging to see a growing number of councils, currently around 80 in England, banning their use and we would like to see others follow suit,” she said.
“Deflated or fragments of balloons can be mistaken for food and can cause a slow death by blocking digestive or respiratory tracts, and the attached strings can strangle. Even balloons classified as degradable are unsafe, as they can take weeks to break down so still pose a risk.”
The spokesman added that sky lanterns are especially dangerous when they land.
“Animals can become entangled and die, or can ingest them resulting in sharp parts tearing and puncturing an animal’s throat or stomach causing internal bleeding. Sky lanterns also cause fires, which destroy habitats and set animal housing, feed and bedding alight,” she said.
West Lindsey District Council leader councillor Giles McNeill told H&H he was contacted by residents about the issue of sky lanterns, as West Lindsey is a rural district.
“I suggested we ban the release of sky lanterns and balloons and include information about the dangers as part our public awareness campaign,” he said. “I recognised there is lots of potential for harm to animals and land and felt as a council, we should do our bit to safeguard the environment and animal welfare. I was pleased to be able to put forward this motion.”
Councillor Peter Moseley, cabinet member for commercial and operations at South Kesteven District Council, told H&H sky lanterns have a detrimental impact on the environment, livestock and wildlife.
“These lanterns are released, go where the wind takes them, and then come down. It is impossible to control where they land.” he said. “As a predominantly rural district there may be greater risks here than in more urban areas.”
Countryside Alliance head of policy Sarah Lee told H&H as there is no national legislation in place to control the release of sky lanterns and balloons, it is up to local authorities to “take the lead”.
“We welcome the move by both councils,” she said. “Sky lanterns, though not intentionally menacing, can cause serious problems. They are threat to animal welfare, farmers and are a major fire risk. We believe the case against releasing sky lanterns outweighs any benefit they could bring.”
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