Lanterns banned to protect environment

Angus Council’s Communities Committee has approved a ban on the intentional release of balloons and sky lanterns at Angus events.

The move comes after the council’s licensing board added conditions to prohibit the release of balloons and lanterns to public entertainment licences and occasional licences/extensions.

The move is designed to reduce the environmental harm and potential threat to wildlife that their release poses.

Angus is not the first council to do this. Indeed, more than 24 local authorities in the UK have adopted balloon/lantern policies and regional authorities in Australia, Canada, and the USA have also banned balloon releases.

Lantern releases are banned in Australia, Germany, Malta, Spain and Vietnam and it is also illegal to import or sell them in Austria.

Keep Scotland Beautiful, National Farmers Union Scotland, the RNLI, RSPB and the Marine Conservation Society have all called for and support such bans.

The intentional release of balloons and Chinese/sky lanterns has been an increasing trend in recent years.

But there are mounting concerns about a range of dangers they present to wildlife and livestock, as well as humans and buildings, crops, bales of straw and hay and forestry.

Their appearance in the sky has also prompted false call outs to the Coastguard.

Communities convener, Councillor Donald Morrison said: “I fully understand the mass release of balloons or lanterns can create an impressive sight in the skies and it is often done to mark a key event or to give support to charity.

“But there is growing evidence about the harm they can cause to the environment and to wildlife once the balloons or lanterns come back down. That lasting threat far outweighs the temporary visual attraction of any release.

“As a council, we will work with events and organisers top make them aware of the ban and try to offer alternatives to the release of balloons or lanterns.”

It is an offence to throw down, drop or otherwise deposit and leave litter in a public open place under Section 87 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Local authorities can issue fixed penalty notices in such circumstances. The prohibition will cover all Angus Council-owned land and property and all council endorsed or supported events.

NFU Scotland has welcomed the county-wide ban. NFU Scotland’s Animal Health and Welfare Policy Manager Penny Johnston commented: “We welcome this move by Angus Council, however we would ask other local authorities to implement a ban on the release of sky lanterns.”