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Tuesday 14 July 2015

Council ramps up crackdown on sky lanterns ‘menace’


Cheshire East Council has ramped up its crackdown on ‘sky lanterns’ and is to ban them from all licenced events in the Borough.

Cabinet member for communities Councillor Les Gilbert is set to ban the launch of candle-lit ‘Chinese’ lanterns as part of the conditions of any hire and event licences granted by the authority. At a portfolio holder meeting next week (July 20) he will also remind people and shopkeepers of the dangers posed by these airborne hazards.

‘Chinese’ or sky lanterns consist of a paper-covered wire or bamboo frame and an open flame heat source which can float in the sky for long distances. When they land they can pose a serious threat to livestock, property and farm machinery.

The burning lantern remnants can start fires, endanger lives, destroy property, distress wildlife, pets and farm animals and cause unsightly littering.

Councillor Les Gilbert, Council Cabinet member for communities, said: “These lanterns are a menace and causing real misery to farmers, their livestock and wildlife.

“Cheshire East is an enforcing Council that puts local residents first. We have listened to the concerns of local people and will impose a ban on sky lanterns being launched from any of the events licenced by the authority.

“I would also remind the public of the dangers sky lanterns pose and ask for their vigilance and support to protect our local communities from the stress and negative impacts of this thoughtless fad, which can do so much harm.

“If people breach the terms and conditions of an events licence, then we will be minded to refuse to grant them a licence in the future.”

The Council’s trading standards officers will also pass on the message to shopkeepers that they should promote an alternative to sky lanterns – and inform them they are banned from Cheshire East -licenced events. 

Keith Brooks, Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service’s head of protection and prevention, said: “Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service does not support the use of sky lanterns and asks members of the public and event organisers to refrain from using them.

“While these lanterns are undoubtedly a popular and beautiful sight, the potential damage they can cause is significant.”

Landowners have called for a ban on sky lanterns in the UK following cases of livestock being injured or killed from eating lantern parts or getting entangled in the wire frames.

The Chief Fire Officers Association called for an urgent review on their use following a huge fire in Smethwick, West Midlands, in 2013, which took 200 firefighters and 39 fire appliances to control and extinguish. Video footage showed a sky lantern was the cause.

Spain, Malta and Austria have already banned the use of sky lanterns. Tesco stopped selling sky lanterns in 2012.

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