Farmers in sky lantern warning

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Farmers are asking the public to avoid the use of sky lanterns during this evening’s Chinese New Year celebrations.

The lanterns, which are constructed from paper with a wire or wooden frame and contain a lighted candle, are a proven fire risk and can be a danger to animals. They pose a fire hazard to stacks of hay and straw, woodland and farm buildings. If they land within crops grown to feed livestock, the frames risk being ingested causing great harm to livestock.

NFU Scotland continues to call for a ban across all local authorities of the use of sky lanterns – to date seven Scottish councils have imposed a ban.

The Union understands Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire, Falkirk, Highland, Shetland Islands, Orkney Islands and, most recently, Angus – have already banned the release of sky lanterns and/or helium balloons.

NFU Scotland’s Animal Health and Welfare Policy Manager, Penny Johnston said: “We don’t want to deter anyone from celebrating Chinese New Year, we would just ask that they use an alternative to sky lanterns to mark the occasion. We believe people can have a great evening while taking the needs of those who live and work in the countryside into consideration.

“Sky lanterns are seemingly innocent devices, and are beautiful to look at, but they can cause untold damage as there is no control over where these burning structures of paper, metal and wood decide to land.

“Across the UK, there have been many reports now of fires started by lanterns and harm to the health of livestock when lanterns have landed in farmers’ fields and been eaten. There is a further risk to stock when grass is cut and ensiled for winter feed, and the wire is chopped up and subsequently contained in hay or silage.

“We applaud the action already taken against the use of sky lanterns by seven local authorities in Scotland and we would look to other councils to take their responsibilities as seriously.

“Taking the time to consider the impact of any display – planned or otherwise – will ensure that all can enjoy this traditional, colourful but noisy time of year.”