NFU Cymru has joined farming organisations across the UK in wishing well all those who celebrate the Chinese New Year, which officially begins today (Monday 23 January), but has urged all those taking part to resist the temptation to light ’sky lanterns’ as part of the festivities.
Chinese or sky lanterns have become increasingly popular in recent years and are released at many celebrations including weddings and large parties. However, these are made from very fine pieces of paper held in a balloon shape by a thin metal wire or piece of bamboo, which can cause serious harm to livestock if they are ingested or become entangled in them. They also present a risk to dry standing crops, stores of hay and straw, trees and farm buildings if they land whilst still alight.
The NFU has been calling for an outright ban on the lanterns, which are already outlawed in parts of Germany, the whole of Vietnam and, as of last week, Spain. An electronic petition calling for the UK to ban Chinese lanterns has also been posted on the Westminster government’s e-petition website.
NFU Cymru President, Ed Bailey said, "Our members know how these lanterns can harm or kill farm animals and they can also cause fires to thatch roofs and bales of hay and straw.
"We hope everyone has a wonderful Chinese New Year, which is always one of the most colourful celebrations in the calendar, but we would urge people to think twice about setting lanterns off."