Event organisers have called for a national ban on Sky Lanterns branding them dangerous to the public, livestock and buildings.
The campaign by the National Outdoor Events Association has a three-pronged approach aiming to raise awareness among the public, event organisers and to gain a parliamentary debate in the bid for an outright ban.
Launched in the South West at England’s biggest agricultural show, the Royal Bath and West in Somerset, the campaign is now being rolled out nationally.
Susan Tanner, NOEA’s chief executive said: “In essence balls of fire are being sent into the air uncontrolled and unmonitored causing damage to animals and property. Ultimately there is a risk to human life; we have already seen firefighters injured while tackling a blaze caused by a lantern.”
Richard Limb, NOEA’s president, added: “Part of our problem is that they do look really pretty but we are sure if people realised the long term effect they would be horrified.
“They may not set something on fire but little bits of wire may end up in silage and the consequences for livestock can be dire.
“We are asking people to follow a voluntary ban while we gather the evidence to support an outright ban; at the moment much of the evidence is anecdotal and a ban cannot be put in place without that evidence. We are asking government for a Parliamentary debate to support the ban.”
Michael Hirst, OBE, chairman of the Business Visits & Events Partnership, said: “We support NOEA’s bid for an outright ban. There is simply not enough awareness of the damage that can be caused. In the meantime we are asking our Partners to bring these concerns to event organisers and venues across the UK.”
“The events industry is vital to the UK economy. It is important that we take a lead in ensuring a safe environment for attendees and the communities in which events are operated”.
Alan Lyons, Show Manager, said: “We are delighted the National Outdoor Events Association has launched this campaign at the Show. We hear many anecdotes from farmers regarding these lanterns and to have a body collating all the information I am sure will be welcomed.
“As a Society we are here for the farming community and will give our support to initiatives such as this which will help those in the rural area who are suffering damage to their livestock and property.”
Examples of damage caused are:-
- a £6m blaze at Smethwick in the West Midlands injuring 11 firefighters
- Reports of an increase in moorland and forest fires as well as scorched gardens and domestic roofs.
- Cows aborting and dying in agony due to wire perforating the gut
- Injury and death to marine life
- Confused with distress flares
NOEA’s website – www.noea.org.uk - has a section where evidence can be submitted of issues faced by the public as well as downloadable posters, signs and letters for use in backing the campaign. There is also a link to an existing petition calling for the Parliamentary debate.