by Tim Bonner

The act of lighting a candle in a fire lantern and watching it rise into the dark night sky might deliver personal satisfaction, but it also deposits litter, threatens livestock and potentially sets fire to the countryside.

The Alliance has joined a group of 18 leading farming, environment, animal and fire organisations to urge the government to regulate sky lanterns in line with other countries, where the release of sky lanterns is considered an environmental crime due to the harm they cause animals, habitats and the countryside. 

The group includes organisations from the National Fire Chiefs Council and Keep Britain Tidy, to the RSPCA and NFU which illustrates the range of concerns about the impact of sky lanterns. Not only are they a serious fire hazard but they also pose a serious danger to horses, farm animals and wildlife. There are regular reports of animals suffering through ingestion, entanglement and entrapment, or simply the sight of a lit lantern in the sky causing terrified animals to bolt and harm themselves

In the rest of the world, countries like Australia, Brazil and Germany already have national bans, and we believe that similar legislation in the UK would be a simple but effective step the government could take towards a safer, cleaner and greener rural Britain. We would not light a naked flame in our home and walk away, so why would we send one into the air with no idea whose home or habitat it could eventually destroy.

The fact that we need to campaign for such legislation is in itself disappointing as it betrays a societal issue with taking responsibility for individual behaviour. The strange thing is that on the one hand there never seems to have been so much concern about other people’s behaviour, whether that involves shooting a pheasant, hunting a fox or managing a grouse moor, whilst so little focus on individual responsibility.

The social media vegan ‘influencer’ lecturing livestock farmers that they are destroying the world from an air conditioned suite in the concrete jungle of Dubai, where she has travelled on a fuel guzzling jet is the classic example. However, the hypocrisy goes much wider than that. How many of those who let their dogs chase livestock are ready to lecture us on the ‘cruelty’ of hunting and shooting? How many who drop litter in the countryside are ready to criticise the farmers who manage it?

It is sad that we have to campaign for legislation to stop people using sky lanterns, but unfortunately we cannot rely on all parts of society using common sense.


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