by Countryside Alliance

The Countryside Alliance has joined other rural organisations in calling for an outright ban on sky lanterns. This was covered in a recent article published in Horse & Hound. The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) launched a petition in May to Defra Parliamentary Under Secretary of State and Minister for Agri-Innovation and Climate Adaption, Jo Churchill MP, calling for an absolute ban on sky lanterns in England and Wales “to safeguard property and animals”. The petition has hit over 22,000 signatures and is still rising.

The petition is part of a long-running campaign for a sky lantern ban. In May 2021, 18 organisations – including Countryside Alliance, NFU, the British Horse Society (BHS) and the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) – formed a coalition and wrote to environment minister Rebecca Pow and called on Government to make the use of sky lanterns illegal.

Speaking to Horse & Hound, Sarah Lee, Director of Policy and Campaigns at the Countryside Alliance highlighted the “serious danger” that sky lanterns pose to the countryside, livestock and wildlife.

“Drifting for miles they are a menace for farmers and landowners who frequently report sheep, cattle and horses being injured or even dying from eating the wire metal frames of the lanterns or being spooked by them, on top of the fire hazard they pose. Not only that, they are also a serious source of litter in the countryside,” she said.

“We urge people to think twice before letting them off and consider their impact after they have left their hands. If people cannot act responsibly, then firmer action is needed from the Government, which is why we support the calls from the NFU for a total ban.”

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.

NFU vice-president David Exwood told Horse & Hound that the organisation has heard from “plenty of farmers about the devastating damage sky lanterns have caused to buildings and fields on their farms and the gruesome injuries they can cause to livestock and other animals”.

“Simply put, all these lanterns must land somewhere and while they may look pretty in the sky, they also become unnecessary litter across our beautiful countryside,” he said.

“We have already seen numerous councils ban sky lanterns, who have rightly recognised the danger they pose, and I would encourage the remaining local authorities to follow the good examples set across the country.”

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