The public is being reminded by the NFU of the huge risks associated with sky lanterns and urged not to release them during New Year celebrations.
The NFU is highlighting the dangers as part of its successful Love your Countryside campaign. Evidence has shown that the frames of lanterns can harm or even kill farm animals if they are ingested, fields of standing crops and buildings are at significant risk of being set alight, while littering is also a big problem.
The Trading Standards Institute published a new code of practice for sky lanterns earlier this year, following discussions between the government and industry. The code offers guidance for those designing, manufacturing, distributing, retailing or using sky lanterns - which have been the subject of sustained NFU lobbying.
A number of local authorities have already taken steps to ban the release of lanterns on their land, including Chesham Town council, Waveney District Council, and more recently Essex County Council and Warwickshire county council, while Stockport Council in Greater Manchester is the latest local authority to consider a ban. Concerns have also been raised by airports, fire services and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency over the similarity to distress flares.
NFU Deputy President Minette Batters said: “We are pleased that local authorities are now starting to see sense and ban the release of lanterns on their land and we would encourage other councils to follow suit. We realise that these lanterns can be quite spectacular but our members know only too well how dangerous they can be - they can harm and even kill farm animals, 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 back British farming and think twice before setting them alight this New Year and releasing them into the environment. The NFU continues to call for an outright ban on the sale of sky lanterns and we will continue to lobby government until action is taken.”
NFU members and the public are being asked to get involved in a letter writing campaign to get the message across.