Release of balloons and sky lanterns banned

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The release of sky lanterns and helium balloons at parties and events will be banned in a bid to protect the environment and reduce the risk to animals.

West Lothian Council joined a number of local authorities across Scotland and approved the recommendation which will affect council owned or leased property and land, and at council endorsed or supported events from April 1.

The release of helium balloons and Chinese sky lanterns have increased over the years and there are concerns over the hazards these pose to wildlife and livestock causing injury and death.

Lanterns can also cause injury to humans, damage to buildings, woodland, agricultural land and cause callouts to the Fire and Rescue Services.

Organisations such as Keep Scotland Beautiful, the National Farmers Union Scotland (NFUS) and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service have raised concern.

Executive councillor for the environment Tom Conn commented: “West Lothian Council is committed to protecting the environment.

“Therefore the council is joining a growing number of local authorities in banning the release of helium balloons and Sky lanterns from all council owned and leased properties.

“While the release of balloons and lanterns can be impressive, there is clear evidence from various organisations that there is a serious risk to the environment from the release of these balloons and lanterns.”

NFU Scotland President Andrew McCormick said: “Across the UK, there have been many reports now of fires started by lanterns and harm to the health of livestock when lanterns have landed in farmers’ fields and been eaten.

“There is a further risk to stock when grass is cut and ensiled for winter feed, and the wire is chopped up and subsequently contained in hay or silage.

“We applaud the action already taken against sky lanterns by some Scottish local authorities and we urge other councils to take their responsibilities as seriously.

“We also ask members of the public to avoid the use of lanterns, and to understand the risks that these can pose and call on the councils who haven’t put bans in place to consider doing so.”