NFU: Call For Ban On Flying Chinese Lanterns

UK - NFU Council has resolved that the organisation should call for an outright ban on flying Chinese lanterns, in light of ongoing concerns about the risks to animal welfare, food safety and the environment.
calendar icon 30 June 2010
clock icon 3 minute read

The NFU had previously called for a voluntary ban on lanterns that use wire in their construction, but having reviewed the evidence of their impacts and remedial moves by manufacturers to date, council members agreed the organisation should now lobby the government for a complete ban, such as those imposed in Germany and Australia.

NFU acting director of communications Terry Jones said, "We have given manufacturers, as well as suppliers, time to take on board our concerns over the sale of these lanterns and move to a safer and more environmentally friendly solution.

“While we have seen some movement by manufacturers and suppliers to biodegradable eco-lanterns, council members felt that the moves were too little, too late. The overwhelming majority of members felt that the UK should follow the example set by other countries and ban them outright, thereby ending any possible future harm to livestock, wildlife and the environment.”

The NFU has received numerous reports of harm to livestock, in some instances deaths, caused by cattle ingesting the metal wires contained within the lantern frames.

The lanterns can also be also be chopped up during silage and hay making leading to ingestion at a later date, while the wire can also get tangled around the animal’s feet or become embedded in its skin. With harvest approaching, council members were also concerned that combines could pick up lanterns in standing crops and during dry weather spells, like the one the country is currently experiencing, they also pose serious fire risks.

The NFU will also enter into discussions with the Environment Agency about the lanterns’ status as trade waste in an effort to reduce the release of lanterns by hotels and wedding venues.

Chinese lanterns are sometimes known as sky lanterns, are commonly used at weddings, birthdays and religious ceremonies and can reach a height of 1,200ft. They consist of a fire-resistant paper canopy, attached to a wire or bamboo frame and a fuel cell to help them become airborne.

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