In the last few days conservationists, farmers, horse riders, veterinarians, the National Fire Chiefs Council and others from across many walks of life have had to start speaking out against the organised mass release of sky lanterns in the UK. It has been claimed that this is in support of the NHS but the reality is that they are very well known to be dangerous – causing death and suffering to wildlife, pets, horses and farm animals when they either become entangled in them or are left severely burnt and in pain by the leftovers. Just a few months ago a single sky lantern landed on the primate enclosure of a zoo in Germany, killing many of the rare and endangered animals inside.
They have also been known to cause fires that the Fire Service then have to go and put out, wasting the time and funding of lifesaving emergency services when more than ever they need the support of the public to not impact upon them as much as possible. For example in 2019 a sky lantern burnt down a plastic recycling centre in the West Midlands that required over 200 firefighters to tackle. Considering how warm and dry it has been recently, the countryside has been described as a tinderbox and some Police and Fire Services are even patrolling areas known to be favoured by arsonists. A sky lantern could potentially have disastrous consequences once let go as it is impossible to predict where it will land.
There are many safe morally and ethically sound ways we can celebrate and support the NHS and other emergency services at this time and we would strongly urge everyone, along with numerous other people, organisations and the emergency services themselves, that sky lanterns must be avoided. They have already been banned by some landowners and local authorities in the UK because of the dangers they pose (similar to released balloons).
A petition to ban sky lanterns nationwide was set up last year on the Change.org website by 10-year old Lexie Stephenson when she learned of the devastation caused by sky lanterns. We would enthusiastically encourage people to sign and share this with their family, friends and local community to help raise awareness of this issue, help prevent more animals from being needlessly maimed and killed by pointless floating burning litter, and help our emergency services by not adding to their workload: https://www.change.org/p/ban-sky-lanterns-beautiful-but-dan…