First, Do No Harm. Ban on Chinese Lanterns Called For
1. “Letting Chinese lanterns off on special occasions has become fashionable and, unlike in many other countries, the lanterns are legal in the UK. They are made of lightweight wire so can fly high into the sky, the debris lands somewhere, usually in farmers’ fields,” states Helen Bower, National President of the Women’s Food and Farming Union, which has called for an outright ban, because the lanterns can pose “deadly havoc” to livestock and other animals. Her letter appears in the Grocer (10 July 2010).
2. The lightweight metal wire structures are hazardous to cattle, sheep, and horses if they eat them. The wires can also lie undetected on the land and become embedded in hay, straw, and silage. This presents a further potential hazard when it is fed to the animals in the winter. Fire officers have often warned that if the metal frames land on haystacks or barns filled with winter forage, then there is a potential hazard.
3. “This danger is causing havoc to farming communities, particularly those on the urban fringe,” declares Helen Bower. “The WFU wants Chinese lanterns banned ahead of the hay, silage, and straw harvests.”
4. The timely warnings can be added to other forms of hazardous littering in both rural and built environments: for instance, broken glass and picknickers rubbish, dumping, old accumulators and tires, and plastic bags, which can cause injuries, gut malfunction, and poisoning in wild and domestic animals.