NFU launches letter writing campaign in bid to ban sky lanterns

Farming organisation says evidence of fire risk and harm to animals is clear

NFU Deputy President Minette Batters
NFU Deputy President Minette Batters

As the Chinese New Year approaches, the NFU is calling on the public to write to their local authorities, urging them to introduce a voluntary ban on the release of sky lanterns.

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

The list of authorities that have already banned the release of lanterns on their land is growing and now includes Essex County Council, Staffordshire County Council, Cardiff Council, Warwickshire County Council, Chesham Town council, Waveney District Council and Norfolk County Council.

Airports, fire services and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency have also raised concerns over the potential for mistaking sky lanterns for distress flares.

Aside from the litter problem created by lanterns, evidence has shown that the frames can harm or even kill farm animals if they are ingested.

Fields of standing crops and buildings, meanwhile, are placed at risk of being set alight.

Last year, the Trading Standards Institute published a new code of practice for sky lanterns following discussions between the Government and industry. This offers guidance for those designing, manufacturing, distributing, retailing or using sky lanterns.

The NFU continues to raise the profile of the issue as part of its Love your Countryside campaign.

NFU Deputy President Minette Batters said: “I know from personal experience just how dangerous sky lanterns can be after losing a cow from my own herd which died after eating some fine wire from a lantern that landed on the farm - the post-mortem revealed that this was the cause of death.

“But it’s important to point out that it’s not just farm animals which can be affected. Sky lanterns cause fires to crops, grassland on moors and bales of hay and straw that have been stacked, which can lead to a loss of buildings.

“It is really encouraging that 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. Members of the public can play a big part by writing to their local councils spelling out how dangerous sky lanterns can be.

“Please back British farming and think twice before setting sky lanterns alight and releasing them into the environment. The NFU continues to call for an outright ban and we will continue to lobby government until action is taken.”

For more information on Love Your Countryside, including the sky lanterns campaign, see the Back British Farming pages on the NFU’s website: http://www.nfuonline.com

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