25/05/2022 - Permalink

Summer celebrations sky lanterns and balloons ban

Related topics: Climate change / environment / Community / Public protection

As the summer season of parties and celebrations gets underway with The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations, people are being reminded not to release sky lanterns or balloons.

The warning, from Shropshire Council’s climate team, is reminding people that both balloons and lanterns can be particularly harmful to livestock, causing serious injury or death, as well as the lanterns posing a significant fire risk.

Ian Nellins, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for climate change, natural assets and the green economy, said:-

“We certainly don’t want to dampen people’s spirits, especially as we celebrate the milestone event of The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee over the extended Bank Holiday weekend, but we must also be mindful of the environmental impact of our celebrations.

“These items may well look pretty when they float off into the sky, but when the debris lands in our countryside and is eaten by animals and livestock they can cause real problems. I know that some people will be tempted to buy them and set them off, but I would urge them not to.

“The use of sky lanterns on Shropshire Council-owned land was banned several years ago, and Shropshire Council voted in February this year for the Government to classify the release of sky lanterns and balloons as littering and therefore a criminal offence.”

Campaigners estimate up to 200,000 sky lanterns are released in the UK every year and warn they can:-

  • Start wildfires
  • Kill animals
  • Destroy food growing in fields
  • Set homes and buildings alight.

While warnings come that:-

  • Over the past five years, on average three balloons per 100m have been found during the Great British Beach Clean.
  • Balloons marketed as ‘biodegradable’ can last up to four years, ie as litter
  • Animals, including livestock, can be injured through ingestion, entanglement and entrapment.
  • Marine turtles are particularly vulnerable. The digestive tract of a juvenile green turtle, washed up dead near Blackpool in 2001, was completely blocked by marine litter including a large fragment of blue latex balloon
  • Animals get tangled up in balloon ribbons and string, restricting their movement and the ability to eat.