Farmer's lucky escape as sky lantern lands near straw bales

George Carins, of Broom Hall Farm, Black Callerton, Northumberland, found a sky lantern near straw bales in one of his fields.

The remains of the sky lantern that landed near straw bales at George Carins's Broom Hall Farm in Black Callerton
The remains of the sky lantern that landed near straw bales at George Carins's Broom Hall Farm in Black Callerton

A Northumberland farmer had a lucky escape when a sky lantern came down in one of his fields.

The lantern landed yards from a stack of straw bales at Broom Hall Farm, Black Callerton, near Ponteland.

Farmer George Carins said: “I don’t know whether it was alight or not when it came down but it landed 50 yards from about 50 or 60 straw bales.

“I think it came from the top end of Darras Hall or Heddon. I’ve found a lot of them in the past but this is the best example so far, it’s very well made.

“The problem is that you don’t find them all, they just get littered around after any big event.”

Mr Carins, who has 200 beef cattle and 200 sheep, as well as an arable operation, added: “There was a lot of publicity about this at one time but it has died down now, although it’s still happening.”

Sky lanterns have drawn criticism from farming organisations and were blamed for causing a £6m fire in a Birmingham recycling factory last year.

The blaze ripped through 100,000 plastic bales awaiting recycling and sent a column of smoke 6,000ft into the sky.

More than 200 firefighters tackled the blaze, 11 of them suffering minor injuries.

The CLA in the North is appealing for local authorities in the region to ban the use of sky lanterns through stricter controls on entertainment licences.

Regional director Dorothy Fairburn said: “Sky lanterns are serious fire hazards, they also endanger the lives of grazing livestock as well as other wildlife, and create unnecessary litter. Those releasing lanterns often have no idea of the hazard they pose, nor do they consider the implications of releasing a naked flame with absolutely no control over where it will land.

“Lanterns that land in fields can get chopped up when farmers mow for silage or hay, resulting in fragments of wire in the forage.

“Cows, which naturally tend to chew things to check them out, get the wire trapped in their gut, resulting in an agonising, slow death.”

And the NFU has urged the public to think twice about releasing sky lanterns because of the significant risks they pose in causing fires in fields of standing crops and buildings and to livestock animals.

Rural surveyor Louise Staples said: “Our members know how dangerous these lanterns can be.

“They can harm or kill farm animals by ingesting a wire frame in chopped grass and there is the fire risk to standing and stored crops, to buildings and they can cause wild fires on moorland.”

This month a council in Wales imposed a voluntary ban on the release of the lanterns on all the land it owns – and the Farmers’ Union of Wales is now urging others to follow Pembrokeshire County Council’s lead.

“We welcome the council’s decision and we regard it as an opportunity to highlight the long-standing campaign for a total ban on them,” said Hywel Vaughan, the union’s Pembrokeshire county chairman.

“We would also make a similar plea to hotels and other wedding venues to introduce such a ban at their premises.”

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