Warning over Chinese sky lanterns
Guests at weddings, festivals and parties are being urged not to release Chinese sky lanterns this summer because of the damage they can do in the countryside.
The paper lanterns, which are carried into the sky by hot air from fuel blocks lit inside them, can drift for miles and cause death to cattle, litter and serious fires in the countryside where they fall to earth.
Farmers have reported sheep, cattle and horses being injured or even dying from eating the wire metal frames of the lanterns, while landowners say they are forced to scour fields to pick up litter.
Agriculture minister Jim Paice warned the public about the problems they cause and urged people to think twice about letting them off at celebrations this summer.
He has asked the British Hospitality Association to advise its members, including hotels, restaurants and other venues, of the problems and to discourage customers from using the lanterns.
Glastonbury festival already has a policy of discouraging use of sky lanterns and other music festivals ban them on safety grounds.
Mr Paice said: "Anyone who's seen sky lanterns at night knows how spectacular they are, but they probably don't know how they can cut a cow's insides to ribbons and be devastating to the countryside.
"I don't want to stop people's enjoyment but I urge everyone to think twice about the impact of a sky lantern after it leaves their hands, and to find another way to celebrate."