CLA welcomes farming minister’s sky lantern warning

28 October 2013

Farming minister Jim Paice has written to the British Hospitality Association, asking it to discourage its membership of hotels, and restaurants and other venues from using sky lanterns.

But land managers say the dangers are so high that only a ban will be adequate protection.

"We are of course delighted that Mr Paice has understood the problem and made this move," says CLA West Midlands director Caroline Bedell.

"Alas, that depends upon everyone acting conscientiously and there is no assurance that they will. When party-goers are in full swing they may not necessarily stop to consider whether or not conditions and locations are suitable.

"We don't want to put a dampener on anybody's celebration but we do have to try to safeguard the countryside and crops from fire – and animals from a horrible death."

Mr Paice's letter comes following the recent dry spell which left the region's crops and wildlife habitats parched, and therefore susceptible to fire.

"Though there has been some rain, there has been nowhere near enough and it would take very little to set fields and wooden farm buildings ablaze," says Mrs Bedell.

"Yields are going to be low anyway and we cannot afford to lose crucial food production, especially when it can be avoided.

"Neither can we afford to lose precious natural habitats and the wildlife it contains."

CLA Midlands is also worried over the danger to livestock posed by the lanterns' frames.

Some may well be caught up in bales of hay and silage and could inadvertently be swallowed by cattle. Frames lying, seemingly inoffensively, in pasture are also a danger because cattle - ever- inquisitive – will chew them, with appalling results.

"I am sure most party-goers would understand the need to ban these sky lanterns when they realise what the consequences of releasing them could be," said Mrs Bedell.