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Further calls to ban ‘dangerous’ sky lanterns

Ahead of Chinese New Year (19 February), equine and farming organisations have been making further calls to ban sky lanterns.

The wire frames of lanterns can be dangerous to animals, with H&H reporting on several deaths in the past few years of horses that ingested them after the lanterns landed in fields.

The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has now launched a letter-writing campaign urging the public to contact their local authorities to introduce a voluntary ban on the release of sky lanterns.

The NFU has put together guidance and a letter template that can be signed and sent to county, district, borough or town councils, encouraging them to vote on the issue.

Essex county council, Staffordshire county council, Cardiff council, Warwickshire county council, Chesham town council, Waveney district council and Norfolk county council have already banned them.

“Sky lanterns can cause fires to crops, grassland on moors and bales of hay and straw, which can lead to a loss of buildings,” said NFU’s Minette Batters.

“It is encouraging that some local authorities are now starting to see sense and have banned the release of lanterns on their land. However, we would like to see many more follow suit. The NFU continues to call for an outright ban, and we will continue to lobby government until action is taken,” she added.

Sheila Hardy from the British Horse Society told H&H the organisation “strongly supports” the NFU’s plan.

“Lanterns can be extremely frightening to horses and can lead to them causing damage to themselves or their handlers,” she added.

“But without hard facts from those who have been involved, it is impossible for us to help make a difference. If anyone has experienced a problem we would urge them to report it to us at horseaccidents.org.uk.”

Ref: H&H 18 February, 2015

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