Calls to ban Chinese lanterns at events in Northumberland because of risk to livestock

Campaigners have called for Chinese lanterns to be banned at events in Northumberland due to the risk to property and livestock

Sky lanterns are often referred to as "Chinese lanterns"
Chinese lanterns

Northumberland councillors have been urged to block any bids to brighten night time skies with the use of controversial Chinese lanterns.

Members of Northumberland County Council’s licensing committee have received a letter from the Country Land and Business Association calling for the lanterns to be barred from events should any organisers mention them in licensing applications.

The CLA has gone one step further and called for the lanterns to be banned outright, but the government has previously ruled out such a radical step.

Douglas Chalmers, policy and public affairs officer at the Country Land and Business Association, said: “We have written to every authority in the North of England from this office and I know my colleagues from around the country are doing the same.

“If you think about it, you are setting fire to something and you have no idea how far and in which direction it is going to go.”

In 2011 20 firefighters fought a fire on Holy Island, which Northumberland Fire and Rescue said was started by a stray Chinese lantern which had landed on the island.

Already councils in Essex Cardiff, Birmingham, Caerphilly Pembrokeshire, Port Talbot and parts of Oxfordshire have banned the release of the lanterns from council land and calls have been made for Northumberland to follow suit.

David Robson, Northumberland NFU chairman
David Robson, Northumberland NFU chairman

David Robson, who farms near Morpeth, is county chairman of Northumberland NFU, he backs calls to restrict their use.

He said: “We lost a cow this spring because it had wire inside.

“But the cost of finding out whether that is what has caused the problems people tend not to do it and getting conclusive evidence it’s from the lanterns is very, very difficult.

“I have found the odd lantern on our place but I’d be loathe to say yes to an outright ban.

“But on balance I’d come down in favour of restricting their use or regulating them.

“I’ve not seen the bamboo framed ones but at least they would be biodegradable.”

Despite steps to make the structures bio-degradeable the CLA has said their ideal aim would see them banned outright.

Mr Chalmers added: “We’ve got a real fire risk and as part of our evidence we’ve said they cause damage to property, to landscape and a general threat to life.

“We’ve either had a positive response and we’ve received letters from various authorities to say we’ve already got the matter in hand.”

Members of Northumberland County Council’s licensing committee received the letter on Wednesday.

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