Countryside and firefighters unite in call for Government to ban sky lanterns

  • Leading figures from animal, farming, environment and insurance organisations are uniting with firefighters to call for the government to act now and ban sky lanterns.

    A new coalition, comprising 18 bodies including the Countryside Alliance and the British Horse Society, has written to environment minister Rebecca Pow to “explain how the Government’s approach not to regulate sky lanterns is now significantly out of date, and out of line with other countries, where the release of sky lanterns is considered an environmental crime due to the harm they cause animals, habitats and the countryside”.

    The organisations point out that by enacting section 140 of the Environmental Protection Act, the secretary of state can “prohibit or restrict the importation, use, supply or storage of injurious substances or articles, such as sky lanterns”.

    So far, 152 councils have banned the release of sky lanterns on their property but with no national legislation, “the countryside and our farms remain unprotected”.

    National Farmers Union deputy president Stuart Roberts said: “The global community is already recognising the dangers of sky lanterns. Countries like Australia, Brazil, and Germany already have national bans, and we must join them.

    “This is a simple but incredibly effective and impactful step the Government can take towards a safer, cleaner and greener rural Britain. We wouldn’t light a naked flame in our home and walk away, so why would we send one into the air with no idea whose home or habitat it could eventually destroy?”

    The National Fire Chiefs Council “fully supports” a ban, as sky lanterns have been proven to have started wildfires and property fires, killing and injuring animals and polluting the environment, as well as putting extra pressure on emergency services.

    The RSPCA and Keep Britain Tidy are also among those calling for the ban.

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    BHS safety team lead Des Payne said: “Sky lanterns can cause significant trauma and distress to horses and livestock. We strongly urge people not to use them.

    “The pretty sight of a lantern in the sky is not worth the suffering animals can experience. As prey animals, horses can be terrified by sky lanterns looming above them and if one lands in their field, the wire can cause serious internal and external injuries.

    “We have received more than 20 reports of harm caused by these lanterns – with horses dying or having to be euthanised in the worst cases. But this may be the tip of the iceberg as we know only one in 10 people report these incidents to us. The BHS encourages horse owners and farmers to be vigilant in checking their fields and hedgerows and report any incidents involving sky lanterns through our new app “Horse i” or on our website.”

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