UK sky lantern approach 'significantly out of date', NFU warns

Sky lanterns start wildfires and property fires, kill or injure livestock, as well as pollute the countryside
Sky lanterns start wildfires and property fires, kill or injure livestock, as well as pollute the countryside

The NFU has written to the government as part of a coalition of 18 organisations to explain how its approach to sky lanterns is now 'significantly out of date'.

The farming union is calling on Environment Minister Rebecca Pow to 'act now' to make the use of sky lanterns illegal.

The letter details how in other countries the release of sky lanterns is considered a crime due to the harm they cause animals, habitats and the countryside.

By enacting Section 140 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, Ms Pow can prohibit or restrict the importation, use, supply or storage of injurious substances or articles, such as sky lanterns.

So far, 152 local councils have already banned the release of sky lanterns on council property but with no national legislation in place, the countryside and farms remain unprotected.

One farming businesses who had been affected by the release of sky lanterns were Jonny and Tamsin Fuller, who run an arable and livestock farm in Cambridgeshire

In 2013, the farming couple lost a cow after it ingested wire from a sky lantern, leaving them with a newborn calf that had to be hand reared.

And in April 2016, a fire was started by a sky lantern on a nature reserve in Dorset where it burned and destroyed a total area of 40 acres.

It killed a range of wildlife and the habitat they lived in.

NFU Deputy President Stuart Roberts said countries around the world were already recognising the dangers of sky lanterns.

"Countries like Australia, Brazil and Germany already have national bans, and we must join them," he said.

“This is a simple but incredibly effective and impactful step the government can take towards a safer, cleaner and greener rural Britain.

"We wouldn’t light a naked flame in our home and walk away, so why would we send one into the air with no idea whose home or habitat it could eventually destroy?”

Who signed the letter?

Allison Ogden-Newton OBE, CEO of Keep Britain Tidy

Amanda Anderson, Director of the Moorland Association

David Bowles, Head of Campaigns and Public Affairs at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA)

David Brown, Deputy President of the Ulster Farmer’s Union (UFU)

Des Payne, Safety Team Leader of The British Horse Society (BHS)

Dr Ed Hayes, Head of Public Affairs, The Kennel Club

Ellie Brodie, Head of Land Management at The Wildlife Trust

Eoghan Cameron, Chairman of The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC)

Gina Bradbury Fox and Julia Bradbury, Managing Directors of The Outdoor Guide

John Davies, President, NFU Cymru

Mark Bridgeman, President of the Country Land and Business Association (CLA)

Mark Coulman, National Chairman of the Tenant Farmers Association

Mark Hardingham, Chair of the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC)

Martin Kennedy President of the National Farmers’ Union of Scotland (NFUS)

Paul Branch, Head of Claims of NFU Mutual Insurance UK (NFU Mutual)

Sandy Luk, Chief Executive Officer of the Marine Conservation Society UK (MCS)

Stuart Roberts, NFU Deputy President

Tim Bonner, Chief Executive of the Countryside Alliance