Council eyes ban on release of Chinese lanterns, balloons
A ban on releasing Chinese lanterns and masses of balloons from council property in Co Antrim could be on the way, it has emerged.
A report will be tabled at a committee meeting of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council tonight in Carrickfergus.
Councillors are being asked to ban lanterns and balloons from being launched from their property because of safety considerations and the impact they have on animals and the environment.
Such releases are often in memory of loved ones or for charity in public parks.
The report states: "There is a risk of harm to wildlife and livestock - ingestion, entanglement, entrapment, panic - from released balloons and sky lanterns."
It also says that sky lanterns pose a fire hazard and, as the council has a long coastline, when released out to sea they can significantly hamper coastal rescue services.
The report continues: "Both also contribute to the defacement of land by litter and waste. The Chief Fire Officers Association, National Farmers' Union, Women's Farmers Union, Marine Conservation Society, Country Land Owners Association and RSPCA are among those urging individuals to use alternatives to sky lanterns and to ask event planners and retailers to use alternatives as well.
"A plea for councils to use alternatives in their events and to ban releases of sky lanterns on their own land has also been issued by many of these organisations.
"In addition, the Marine Conservation Society, RSPCA, RSPB, Keep Britain Tidy and the National Farmers' Union have for many years called for bans on mass balloon releases."
The council may promote alternative solutions such as using stationary candles or nightlights in static lanterns, petal floating or planting of a tree in memory of someone who has passed away.