An inquiry is set to be launched into finding the most effective measures to stop the launching of sky lanterns after councillors heard of their “horrendous” consequences for livestock and on crops.
More than a decade after the National Farmers Union wrote to the government calling for a ban on the sale of the small, paper hot air balloons a full meeting of Richmondshire District Council heard the lanterns, which are often released at weddings, remained a serious menace in rural areas such as Richmondshire.
The authority unanimously approved banning their release at almost 100 sites the authority owns across the area, such as Ronaldshay Park, in Richmond and Brompton on Swale playing fields.
The councillors also agreed to urge all parish and town councils in the district to ban the release of sky lanterns on their land and for a scrutiny committee to examine how best to tackle the issue.
Introducing the motion, Reeth councillor Richard Good told the meeting an estimated 200,000 sky lanterns were still being sold in the UK each year and while they can look mesmerising, many people remained unaware of the deadly consequences fallen lanterns can have for animals and the environment.
Cllr Good said the motion had been inspired by the concerns of farmers in Wensleydale, Swaledale and Arkengarthdale, who had been forced to euthanise sheep after they had eaten wires in the lanterns.
He said alongside a risk to buildings, dry standing crops, forestry, hay stacks, heather moors, and habitats, there was also an air safety risk associated if the lanterns became entangled in aircraft engines.
The meeting heard several calls for a ban on sky lanterns across Richmondshire, but officers said however “distasteful” members view of sky lanterns was, it remained legal to sell and release the lanterns.
Officers warned enforcement of the ban could be problematic as the council owned “a huge amount of land”.
However, councillors agreed it was “a fight which we all want to take on” and heard Richmond MP Rishi Sunak had supported a move to introduce legislation banning sky lanterns, but it failed as it was not given government time.
Lower Wensleydale farmer, Councillor Richard Ormston, condemned those releasing sky lanterns as “irresponsible”.
He said: “These lanterns are nothing less than fire-bombs. They’re a very serious hazard to grazing livestock and sileage as well. I’ve had several burnt-out patches in my arable crops near harvest and the worst case scenario I’m looking at a £30,000 or £40,000 loss.
“When cattle eat them it’s a pretty horrendous ghastly death for livestock. It punctures their stomachs and they just rot to death and there’s nothing you can do to cure them.is considerably more than a nuisance.”
Councillor Jimmy Wilson Petch added: “I hate the damn things, they should be banned completely and they’re also made in China.”