Move to ban sky lanterns in Uttlesford is backed by district council

PUBLISHED: 08:52 16 April 2018 | UPDATED: 08:52 16 April 2018

Simon Howell

Simon Howell

Archant

Councillors who called for a ban on the release of sky lanterns and helium balloons in Uttlesford have been successful.

Councillors Simon Howell and Janice Loughlin proposed the motion at the full Uttlesford District Council meeting on April 10, highlighting the risks posed by sky lanterns.

Cllr Howell said: “The release of helium balloons has become a significant source of littering in the countryside. All released balloons return to Earth as ugly litter and can take many years to decompose. Whilst walking my dogs, last weekend I recovered the remains of 17 helium balloons – all were in the hedgerows and watercourses next to footpaths or bridleways within a mile radius of my home in Great Sampford.

“The motion we are proposing is not about banning party balloons. We want to highlight the dangers of releasing sky lanterns and that the release of helium balloons is no different from any other kind of littering.”

Concerns have also been raised about lanterns posing a danger to aviation traffic such as planes and helicopters, arguing that lanterns can be drawn into aircraft engines and can delay take-off and landing.

In addition, councillors say lanterns drifting across a night sky are commonly mistaken by the public and coast guards for marine distress signals.

The motion called on the council to treat reports of the release of sky lanterns and helium balloons as potential littering offences and to review the terms under which council land and premises are let to the public with a view to prohibiting their release.

The motion was passed with 30 votes in favour, none against and three abstentions.

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