Don't use sky lanterns to celebrate jubilee, Shropshire Council urges

People in Shropshire are being urged not to release sky lanterns or balloons when they celebrate the Queen's Platinum Jubilee.

People release sky lanterns to celebrate the traditional Chinese Sky Lantern Festival in Pingsi, Taipei.
People release sky lanterns to celebrate the traditional Chinese Sky Lantern Festival in Pingsi, Taipei.

Shropshire Council has a ban on the pretty but potentially destructive items being released on its land and wants to see the flying menaces treated as litter.

Councillor Ian Nellins said: “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."

Mr Nellins holds the climate change, natural assets and green economy portfolio at Shropshire Council.

He said he doesn't want to dampen people’s spirits during the first ever royal platinum jubilee but wants people to be mindful of the environmental impact of celebrations.

Sky lanterns and balloons follow the rule of what goes up, must come down. And when they do come to ground they can be harmful to livestock, causing serious injury or death, as well as the lanterns posing a significant fire risk.

Mr Nellins said: “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.

The council adds 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 as litter

Animals, including livestock, can be injured through eating them, 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.

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