Government stance on sky lanterns "significantly out of date" says rural coalition calling for national ban

A coalition of farming, environmental, welfare and fire organisations are calling on the Government to ban sky lanterns.

The letter to Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said the Government's stance was "outdated"

The 18 signatories of a letter written to Environment Minister Rebecca Pow outline how they feel the Government’s stance on sky lanterns is “significantly out of date” and “out of line” with other countries where the release of the paper lanterns is considered an environmental crime.

At present, it is down to individual councils to implement a ban on the release of sky lanterns, but this can only be enforced on land they own which means they can still be released on private land.

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The coalition said 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.

They added that 152 local councils have already banned the release of lanterns on their land but with no national legislation the countryside and farms remain unprotected.

Stuart Roberts, inset, NFU deputy president, 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,” he stressed. “This is a simple but incredibly effective and impactful step the Government can take towards a safer, cleaner and greener rural Britain.”

Co-signatory, Tim Bonner, CEO of the Countryside Alliance, described the lanterns as a “blight” on the countryside and “incredibly dangerous”.

“Once released, there is no way of knowing where they will end up and all too often they end up strewn over fields, causing a major hazard for grazing livestock, not to mention the fire hazard risk they pose. It is high time their use was ended swiftly.”

The call for a ban is backed by fire-fighters with Paul Hedley, National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) wildfire lead, stating that sky lanterns have been proven to start wildfires and property fires, kill or injure livestock and pollute the natural environment.

Amanda Anderson, director of the Moorland Association, also highlighted the danger wildfires posed to peatland adding that banning sky lanterns would represent a “positive step”.