UK-wide sky lantern ban needed, new coalition urges

152 local councils across the UK have already banned the release of sky lanterns
152 local councils across the UK have already banned the release of sky lanterns

A national sky lantern ban is needed to stem environmental crime due to the harm they cause to livestock, habitats and farms, a new coalition has said.

The group, made up of 18 organisations, has written to Environment Minister Rebecca Pow to explain how the UK government’s current approach is now 'out of date'.

The UK is also 'out of line' with other countries where sky lanterns are considered an environmental crime due to their risk to animals and the countryside.

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

152 local councils – including all 22 local authorities in Wales - have already banned the release of sky lanterns on council property.

But with no national legislation the countryside and farms remain unprotected, the coalition, which includes NFU Cymru, says.

The union's president John Davies said the dangers of sky lanterns had been recognised by countries across the world.

"It’s high time we joined this growing global community and implement a ban on them here in the UK," he added.

“It is great that all of our Welsh local authorities have already showed the leadership to ban the release of sky lanterns from council-owned land and property here in Wales.

"We are now calling on government to take this important, logical next step to ban the unnecessary risk posed by sky lanterns and protect property, animals and farmland.”

The Countryside Alliance, also a member of the new coalition, added that sky lanterns were a blight on the countryside and incredibly dangerous.

"There is no way of knowing where they will end up and all too often they end up strewn over fields, causing a major hazard for grazing livestock," Tim Bonner, chief executive said.

The National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) has also given its backing for a full UK-wide ban on the release of sky lanterns.

Paul Hedley, NFCC wildfire lead said: "Sky lanterns have been proven to start wildfires and property fires, kill or injure livestock, as well as polluting our natural environment.

"They put unnecessary strain on our critical services. Our advice is simple - don’t use them."