Green Party supports BCP Council ban on Sky Lanterns

16 April 2020

At the BCP Council meeting on 18th February, the Council passed restrictions on use of Sky Lanterns and Helium Balloons from land owned by, and events licensed by, BCP Council. The Green Party supports this move.

Recently proposals have been made to encourage releasing sky lanterns on Thursday evenings, alongside the hand clapping, to recognize the work done by the NHS during the Covid 19 pandemic.

Many organisations have drawn attention to the problem of sky lantern and balloon releases which end up as litter on land or sea and pose a risk to livestock and marine animals which mistake balloons for food and are injured by the metal in some sky lanterns.

Balloons have been found ingested in endangered turtles, dolphins, whales and seabirds. Livestock have died after eating degraded lanterns, which are accidentally picked up by harvesting machinery and put into winter feeds.

Lanterns also pose a fire risk to crops in the summer months and to thatched roof properties. In April 2016 a sky lantern landed on a Dorset Nature Reserve near Wareham starting a major gorse fire and just after Christmas 2019 in Germany sky lanterns were believed to have caused the death of dozens of zoo animals. In addition, sky lanterns are causing a number of false alarm call outs on the coast as people mistake them for distress flares.

The call to ban balloon and sky lantern releases nationally is supported by the Marine Conservation Society, RSPCA, RSPB, BASC and the National Farmers’ Union.

Following the public outcry about plastic in our oceans and the recent Climate and Ecological Emergencies declared not just here but across hundreds of councils and other organisations, now is the time to put an end to this unnecessary activity.

BCP Council unanimously agreed that:
1. Releases of Sky Lanterns and Helium Balloons should not be permitted from land owned by BCP Council.
2. Releases of Sky Lanterns and Helium Balloons should not be permitted at any events licensed by BCP Council.
3. BCP Council Communications team should consider amending their literature to include ideas for alternative commemorative actions, drawing attention to the ban on council land and discouraging organisers from using Sky Lanterns or Balloon Releases at events on private land.

At the same meeting it was resolved to prohibit the sale of any product wholly or partially made with real animal fur on Council owned land and at Council run or Council leased markets.

The United Kingdom has outlawed the farming of animals for their fur on ethical grounds since 2000 and that the use of one of the most common traps used to catch animals for their fur has been illegal for many years.

Nonetheless fur products are imported from overseas nations, particularly China, where such bans do not operate and where there is virtually no animal welfare legislation in force. Real fur comes from animals raised in deplorable conditions or trapped in the wild and killed inhumanely.

The full minutes of the meeting can be read here