Mid Wales farmers seeking ban on sky lanterns use

Farming chiefs in Mid Wales have called for an outright ban on the manufacture and sale of sky lanterns due to fears over the safety of animals.

The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has also called for the release of the lanterns to be made illegal in the UK.

A report commissioned by the Welsh Assembly and Defra recommends that the lanterns and helium balloons should not be banned. But the FUW has called on them to think again.

The report looked at the risks sky lanterns and helium balloons have on livestock health, the environment, fire risk, damage to marine life and consumer safety.

Andrew Gurney, FUW land use policy officer, said he felt let down that the report did not recommend a ban.

He said: “After consulting our members, the union called for an outright ban on the manufacture and sale of sky lanterns and for their release to be made illegal in the UK.

“We received numerous reports from members of sky lanterns being found in fields which were being grazed, were about to be grazed, or cut for silage or hay.

“Other more serious reports received included a lantern found smouldering in a barn containing hay and straw and a cow injured following a stampede started by lanterns floating over fields containing livestock.

“The report concedes the evidence received suggests widespread concern from farmers and others over the impact of sky lanterns on the health and welfare of livestock and horses.”

He added: “We were therefore very surprised and disappointed that they also said the evidence indicated the number of cases reported annually of animals affected through panic and fright and of ingestion of sky lantern debris was ‘very small’.”

Mr Gurney said that he was worried that sky lanterns could also cause grass fires.

Defra has no plans to ban the sky lanterns.