‘Very dangerous’: calls for TV bosses to rethink after sky lanterns released on prime-time show

  • Television producers and scriptwriters have been urged to think carefully after a prime-time TV show featured a sky lantern release.

    Keep Britain Tidy is among those criticising the finale of ITV’s Doc Marten, set in Cornwall, in which people living in the coastal village released lanterns in memory of lost ones. In the episode, one lantern set the village Christmas tree alight; the risk of fire is one reason campaigners want such lanterns banned.

    “The charity has voiced concern over an episode of ITVs’ Doc Martin, set on the Cornish coast, which has already attracted criticism from people on social media who are concerned about the environment,” a Keep Britain Tidy spokesman said.

    “Every year up to 200,000 sky lanterns are released in the UK, often causing catastrophic damage to wildlife and habitat, and ending up as litter.”

    H&H had reported extensively on the dangers of sky lanterns, including the risk they pose to horses, livestock and wildlife, as well as buildings, crops and humans.

    Keep Britain Tidy worked with the NFU to create a petition asking the Government to ban sky lanterns, which has 96,000 signatures. Last year, the charity launched a #BanTheFlamingThing campaign.

    Keep Britain Tidy chief executive Allison Ogden-Newton OBE said: “Damage to farms and property by sky lanterns is well documented as is harm to animals. These floating flames are highly dangerous.

    “We need to stop this very dangerous form of littering and want to see the sale of sky lanterns banned.

    “While we continue to call on the Government to take action, in the meantime, we want to see scriptwriters and TV producers step up and think carefully about their representation of issues affecting the environment. Whether it’s portraying the release of sky lanterns or showing characters dropping cigarette butts on the ground, TV is normalising behaviours that do untold damage to the environment and pose a significant risk.”

    Animal and equine charities, as well as fire and rescue services, have also been among those calling for a ban on sky lanterns.

    Blue Cross head of public affairs Becky Thwaites told H&H: “Sky lanterns present a significant danger to animals and the environment, and can even prove fatal as there is no certainty where they will land.

    “They may seem like harmless fun but they can pose a serious fire risk, and are a threat to wild and domestic animals who can suffer serious and painful injuries if they ingest them or become tangled up in them. There have even been cases of horses being set alight by them.

    “We back a coalition led by the RSPCA, fire chiefs and other organisations who have tirelessly been calling for a nationwide ban and would urge people to consider other ways of marking an occasion rather than the use of lanterns.”

    H&H has approached ITV for comment.

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