Council to consider county-wide ban on sky lanterns in North Yorkshire due to 'strength of local feeling on the issue'
As momentum continues to build behind a long-running campaign by the National Farmers Union to deter people at events such as weddings from releasing the mini hot-air balloons, North Yorkshire County Council has agreed to examine the best ways of reducing their impact.
Earlier this year, local authorities in Yorkshire came under fire after it emerged only a few had taken steps to stop people releasing lanterns on their land. Bradford, Calderdale, East Riding, Kirkleees, Leeds, Selby, Wakefield and Richmondshire had introduced bans at council sites.
While approving its ban on releasing the lanterns at almost 100 sites it owns, Richmondshire Council also launched an inquiry into finding the most effective measures to stop people releasing them.
A full meeting of the county council heard more than 200,000 of the lanterns continue to be released each year, partly because many people remain ignorant about the risks they pose.
Coun Bryn Griffiths said taking action in North Yorkshire is vital as it is predominantly rural, has two National Parks with fire-prone open moorland, many farm animals and an array of wildlife.
He said: “While they can look pretty and mesmerising, few people are aware of the potentially deadly consequences fallen lanterns can have for animals and the environment. Sky lanterns have the potential to travel miles from their original release site in an uncontrolled manner before returning to land sometimes still alight.”
The Liberal Democrat member for Stokesley said aside from the fire risk, the lanterns posed a threat to wild animals which could become entangled in their wire frames and could kill animals that eat them.
He told the meeting he hoped the authority would throw its weight behind the campaign by the National Farmers Union, which has already seen more than 160 local authorities ban the release of sky lanterns on council-owned land.
Coun Griffiths said the county council also needed to call on parish and town councils to ban lanterns from being released on their land, as well as work with businesses, communities, landowners and schools to educate people about the dangers.
The authority’s chairman, Coun Jim Clark, said after he became aware of the strength of feeling about the issue, he decided it needed more careful consideration than a single debate could produce and called on the council’s Corporate and Partnership Scrutiny Committee to investigate the matter.