Wales politics

Sky lantern and balloon voluntary ban urged by Welsh government

Deflated balloons in a tree
Image caption The use of sky lanterns and helium balloons has concerned groups such as Keep Wales Tidy

Councils should introduce a voluntary ban on the release of sky lanterns and helium balloons on their land, says the Welsh government.

It comes three months after ministers rejected banning them after a report said it could not be justified, but use would be discouraged.

Natural Resources Minister Alun Davies has written to councils encouraging them to introduce the restrictions.

There are worries the lanterns pose a fire risk and endanger livestock.

Two environmental groups and the Farmers' Union of Wales (FUW) have called for an outright ban.

Conwy council has already stopped people releasing sky lanterns and helium balloons on its land.

Mr Davies warned of the danger and stress that sky lanterns could pose to animals and highlighted the fire risks.

"Sky lanterns and helium balloons pose a real danger to livestock, other animals and buildings," Mr Davies said.

"A recent independent report has found that the fire risk associated with the use of sky lanterns is significant, while we also know that the ingestion of debris from lanterns can kill or seriously harm an animal.

"We want to make people aware of the risks and that is why I have written to local authorities across Wales to encourage them to introduce a voluntary ban on the release of sky lanterns and helium balloons.

"We are also supporting the UK government's efforts to work with retailers and manufacturers to ensure that clear warnings about the risk of helium balloons and sky lanterns are placed on packaging."

'Fire risk'

Farming unions have previously highlighted the risk the lanterns pose to animals and farm buildings, while fire service bosses have also warned of the dangers.

FUW parliamentary committee chairman Gavin Williams welcomed Mr Davies's intervention, saying the UK government had "failed to act" on the issue.

He said: "The risk of livestock ingesting parts of sky lanterns and the fire risk they represent are a huge concern, and we have asked members to continue to report incidents to their county branches so that evidence of their effects can continue to be collected."

The Marine Conservation Society and Keep Wales Tidy have called for an outright ban.

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