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Herts CC bans Sky Lanterns and Balloons

January 22, 2020 4:04 PM

Sky Lanterns KillHertfordshire County Council has now joined 80 others in banning the release of sky lanterns and balloons from land and buildings it owns or controls.

Horses and cattle can be killed if they eat sky lanterns or balloons in fields or ending up in silage. The wire in the lanterns can perforate the stomachs and intestines of grazing animals. The balloons can cause them to choke to death.

Smaller animals and birds can die after being caught in the lanterns or balloons on the ground or in hedges or trees. When they fall into water or into the sea they can also entrap small animals, fish or birds.

They also cause fires and were implicated in two serious fires last year. One killed 30 apes and monkeys in a zoo in Germany and the second was a very considerable fire at a plastics recycling centre in the West Midlands. In the latter incident, 200 fire fighters attended, £6 million of damage was caused and the smoke reached 6,000 ft into the air.

The initiative for this move came from an e-petition started by Plastic Free St Albans.

Balloons released into the air contain helium, a scarce resource which is available only from underground sources as a result of radioactive decay over millions of years. Once in the atmosphere it escapes into space. However this element is essential to much science and engineering. For example it is an essential coolant needed for such equipment as MRI scanners.

Lib Dem County Councillor for Tring & the Villages, Nick Hollinghurst said, "In common with the RSPCA, the Marine Conservation Society and the National Farmers Union I strongly support this ban of sky lanterns and balloons being released from HCC land. In fact I would also support a nationwide ban. As for the use of helium, I regard this as a strategic material that should only used for licensed purposes. It nearly all comes from the USA and I wouldn't be a bit surprised if they started to introduce export restrictions of such a critical material."