by Daisy Bashford

The Countryside Alliance has been very clear in the past about our opinion on the setting off of dangerous sky lanterns.

Back in April, there was an influx of adverts on social media promoting the sale of these lanterns as companies encouraged people to use them by way of showing support for the NHS. At this time, we backed a plea from the National Fire Chiefs Council by asking our members and supporters to stop setting of these sky lanterns.

Once released, sky lanterns can drift for miles as the wind carries them and can cause havoc for those who tend to the land where they have ended up. Farmers and landowners who frequently report that their horses, cattle and sheep are injured by these lanterns due to the immediate danger they pose when they are still alight, as well as the threat they pose if an animal eats the metal wire frames that allow sky lanterns to hold their shape.

Our Head of Policy, Sarah Lee said: “Sky lanterns are often marketed as being fun ways of marking an event but in reality, they are incredibly dangerous to wildlife and sometimes, to people. Once you set off a lantern and have had that minute of joy watching it go up into the night’s sky, you lose track of it and have no control over where it ends up. Far too often, animals choke on the debris that lands in fields and fires can start quickly.”

Aside from the obvious physical damage they can do, they are also a long-term pollutant in our countryside, adding to the already high levels of rubbish and fly-tipping that so many rural communities have to deal with.

Many people resort to using sky lanterns on Guy Fawkes night, as you may have seen this past week, instead of fireworks or to feel as though they are part of the display. We urge anyone thinking of buying these to change their minds and think of the adverse effect that they have on our countryside.

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