Farming Matters: Dangers of sky lanterns

Derek and Vicki Crush. A Chinese lantern fell close to their barn (photo by Steve Cobb)
Derek and Vicki Crush. A Chinese lantern fell close to their barn (photo by Steve Cobb)
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Chinese New Year is celebrated today, but if anyone is thinking of releasing sky lanterns to recognise the event, the NFU is asking them to reconsider.

Sky lanterns, which undeniably look so very pretty, are of course not just released at Chinese New Year.

Increasingly, people release them at our own New Year, at birthdays, weddings and other celebrations.

But they are an absolute menace in the countryside where they can set fire to buildings and fields of standing crops but, more importantly, the frames can harm or even kill farm animals if they are ingested.

The NFU is urging members of the public to stop using the lanterns and more than that, to write to their local authorities to ask them to introduce a voluntary ban on the release of the lanterns.

Near to our Buckinghamshire farm a town council has already joined the list of councils that has banned the release of lanterns on their land, and every week the list grows longer.

NFU deputy president Minette Batters said: “I know from personal experience just how dangerous sky lanterns can be after losing a cow from my own herd which died after eating some fine wire from a lantern that landed on the farm - the post mortem revealed that this was the cause of death.”