Lantern code welcomed but only a ban will do

Hundreds of Taiwanese release Hundreds of Taiwanese release "sky lanterns" to celebrate the traditional Chinese Lantern Festival, in hopes of good fortune and prosperity in the new year, Sunday, March 4, 2007, in Taipei County, Taiwan. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

Friday, August 29, 2014
12:37 PM

A new code of practice for sky lanterns has been published in a further bid to reduce the damage they cause to livestock, crops and property.

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Released into the air by festival goers, wedding and funeral guests, campers and many others, sky - or Chinese - lanterns have been blamed by landowners for causing fires and killing or hurting animals. Various organisations have banned their sale or use in recent years.

The latest move by the Trading Standards Institute is to publish a code offering guidance for those designing, manufacturing, distributing, retailing or using sky lanterns.

The code is the result of discussions between the government and industry, and follows sustained industry lobbying.

As well as fires, there have been cases of cattle ingesting the wire from lanterns, especially in processed feed.

CLA eastern regional director Nicola Currie said she remained disappointed that the UK had not introduced a total ban.

“I’m pleased Trading Standards are involved and any step which helps educate the public has to be welcomed. But I’m not optimistic that a ban will come to our shores, which is a dreadful shame as these lanterns are very dangerous and their use is completely inappropriate.

“A significant number of countries have realised the dangers and acted. The UK is lagging behind.

“What we need is an outright ban - some lanterns are marketed as ‘farmer friendly’, but there is no such thing.”

NFU assistant land management adviser Jonathan Evans said: “The NFU welcomes the fact that Trading Standards and the wider industry are taking a much closer look at this issue and have recognised the dangers of releasing Chinese lanterns.

“However, we are still calling for an outright ban and will continue to lobby government until action is taken.

“People who buy lanterns have got to realise just how dangerous they can be - they have caused fires on an industrial scale, destroy acres of crops and kill or injure farm animals.

“The NFU has been encouraged to see local councils such as Essex banning the use of lanterns on its land and large retailers like Tesco and Poundland taking action.”

The highest profile fire known to have been caused by a lantern was last year in the West Midlands. CCTV footage showed a lantern landing at a recycling plant in Smethwick before a fire started involving 100,000 tonnes of plastic.

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