Sky lanterns: the debate

PUBLISHED: 10:57 11 May 2014 | UPDATED: 10:57 11 May 2014

Sky lanterns

Sky lanterns

Archant

They look very striking, but they can also cause fire and even death – that’s why the CLA is calling for a ban

As the days become longer and warmer, many of 
us look forward to summer evenings spent celebrating special events with our friends and family.

There are many excellent ways to 
mark a special occasion, from cakes 
and candles to singing and dancing.

In recent years sky lanterns have also become associated with celebrations. However, their release into the night 
sky risks causing devastating fires and killing livestock. That’s why we are calling for their ban.

Farmers and landowners in Kent 
have been voicing their concerns 
about sky lanterns since 2009, and the argument is certainly a compelling one.

Sky lanterns are made from paper 
and wire, sometimes including wooden parts too. Once lit, they can fly for up to 15 miles. However, they can come down early while the fuel for the lantern is still burning, and spark a blaze.

We have seen them cause ferocious and devastating blazes in the UK, not least the blaze last year at the Smethwick plastics recycling plant which left 11 firefighters injured as well as causing £6m of damage.

The risk of serious fire is not our only concern. There have been unpleasant 
and upsetting instances across the 
country where livestock has died by ingesting the metal frames which 
have fallen to ground. It’s high time 
that action was taken to address this serious and unnecessary problem.

Sky lanterns represent a wholly avoidable risk to property, woodland, 
crops and livestock – launching a 
naked flame into the night sky, over 
which there is no control, is reckless.

While the industry has attempted 
to promote ‘environmentally-friendly’ lanterns, it is clear that the only responsible way forward is to stop their use.

This is not a radical solution. Sky lanterns are banned or restricted in the Netherlands, Finland, Spain, Germany, Austria and Malta. A number of authorities in England and Wales have also banned or restricted their use on council lands, including in Oxfordshire, Conwy, Cardiff, Port Talbot, Caerphilly, Birmingham and parks in London.

This is an excellent step in the right direction, and we would be delighted 
to see it replicated by authorities in 
Kent and across the whole of the UK.

We were disappointed last year that Government issued guidance on the 
‘safe use’ of sky lanterns. I have considered the guidance carefully, and I cannot think of any circumstances where it is safe to launch these flying bonfires, whether over town or countryside.

The CLA is asking Government to 
ban sky lanterns, but we all have a 
part to play. Landowners can put in 
place a ban on releasing lanterns on 
their land, and we can all make the decision to celebrate our special occasions this summer in a safer way. n

More from Out & About

Yesterday, 16:11

Your foreign holiday may be on hold, but there is a plethora of inspirational ways to enjoy days out right here in our home county | Words: Emma Ward - Photos: Manu Palomeque

Read more
Yesterday, 12:35

We’ve gathered six of the best dog-friendly pubs in Kent to enjoy a bite to eat after a scenic stroll

Read more

From its literary links to its cricketing history, this riverside town has plenty of surprises to discover

Read more

There may not be the usual crowds this summer, but we can still look ahead to our return to one of Kent’s favourite seaside destinations - Whitstable

Read more
Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Picnic baskets at the ready because we have gathered 10 of the best places to enjoy a picnic in stunning rural Kent

Read more

As the world slows down, we turn our eyes to the skies in search of the best places to watch some celestial wonders this summer

Read more
Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Margate is Thanet’s trendiest seaside town so we selected some things to do, see and eat when visiting

Read more

Here are 12 places that may have flown under your radar before but are well worth seeking out

Read more

Kent is blessed with fine and indeed famous country houses, but over the decades has lost as many of its grander houses as it retains. A new book by Martin Easdown reveals 120 examples that have simply disappeared

Read more
Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Take our quiz to see if you can decipher the town or place in Kent from the emojis

Read more
Kent Life Food & Drink awards. Open for entries.

Subscribe or buy a mag today


subscription ad


Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook


Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Most Read

Latest from the Kent Life