Launching of sky lanterns banned from Harlow land and buildings

Communities / Fri 7th Nov 2014 at 06:54am

Chinese LanternsPEOPLE are to be banned from releasing Chinese lanterns or any other form of sky lanterns from any Essex County Council-owned building or land with immediate effect.

The move has been introduced to prevent the threat of fires, danger to wildlife and unnecessary litter. It follows concerns raised about the dangers posed by the lanterns by residents and rural business leaders.

From now on anyone caught lighting or releasing any form of sky lanterns from a Council-owned building, country park or other piece of land will be asked to leave. The Council is also urging all people not to use these lanterns anywhere in Essex to help protect the environment.

Sky lanterns – also known as Chinese lanterns or Kongming lanterns – are small hot air balloons often powered by a candle. These lanterns have the potential to start fires depending on where they land, can frighten wildlife and endanger animals if they get trapped in or eat the remains of the lantern, and litter the county’s countryside.

Councillor Roger Hirst, Cabinet member for Libraries, Communities and Planning, said, “While these lanterns may look nice when you launch them they can cause untold damage to our countryside, our wildlife and to our businesses.

“The remains of the lanterns can damage farming machinery if it gets caught up in its parts, start fires if still alight when they land, cause panic among and even kill animals, let alone becoming a litter nuisance.

“We have listened to the concerns of residents and rural businesses and taken action to protect our environment, businesses and wildlife. We now urge all residents to follow our lead and think twice before they launch one of these lanterns wherever they are in Essex.”

National Farmers Union Deputy President Minette Batters said: “We are pleased that Essex County Council has taken the decision to ban lanterns on its land. We realise that lanterns can be quite spectacular but our members know only too well how they can harm and even kill farm animals.

“They can also cause fires to crops, grassland on moors and bales of hay and straw that have been stacked, which can lead to a loss of buildings. We would urge everyone to think twice before setting them alight and releasing them into the environment and we would encourage other councils and local authorities to follow suit.”

Dawn Avery, RSPCA Chief Inspector for Essex, said: “We are delighted that Essex County Council are banning the use of sky lanterns on their land, and hope this might encourage other councils to follow suit.

“They may appeal to some as an unusual way to mark the various celebrations at this time of year, but if used carelessly they can terrify, injure and kill animals Cattle have died after bits of sky lanterns have fallen into their feed, and scraps of the items landing in a field could be eaten by any animal from a horse to a pet dog with fatal consequences.

“There are so many ways that people can have fun which will not cause problems for animals, and sometimes the extra thought and care can end up making the event even more special.”

The Council will also be writing to anyone who currently leases a building or piece of land from it to advise them of the new policy and will include the ban in any new leases granted.

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