07 May 2021
Lanterns ban reiterated as farms and crops suffer
A COALITION of 18 farming, environment, animal and fire organisations have written to Environment Minister Rebecca Pow calling for new action on sky lanterns, which present a risk to crops and farms.
Explaining why the government’s approach to sky lanterns is significantly out of date and action is urgently needed, the group, which includes the NFU, Countryside Alliance, National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC), Keep Britain Tidy, is calling on the government to make the use of sky lanterns illegal. The letter details how in other countries the release of sky lanterns is considered an environmental crime as they harm animals, habitats and countryside.
By enacting Section 140 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, 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 local councils have already banned the release of sky lanterns on council property but with no national legislation in place, the countryside and farms remain unprotected.
NFU Deputy President Stuart Roberts (pictured) 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?”
Tim Bonner, chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, said sky lanterns are a blight on the countryside and incredibly dangerous. He said there is no way of knowing where they will end up and all too often they end up strewn over fields and present a fire hazard risk they pose.
National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) wildfire lead, Paul Hedley, added that sky lanterns have been proven to start wildfires and property fires, while Allison Ogden-Newton, CEO of Keep Britain Tidy, acknowledged that they looked beautiful and were often used for sentimental or celebratory purposes, but this came at a cost. "What goes up must come down and sky lanterns inevitably become litter. We believe that asking the government to ban sky lanterns will awaken everyone to this fact.”