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Sky lanterns will not be banned - Defra

Defra chiefs have refused calls for a ban on deadly sky lanterns because the risk of death and injury they pose to livestock is ‘low’, according to a report.
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The independent report carried out for Defra and the Welsh Assembly Government by ADAS assessed the possible impact of sky lanterns and helium balloons on livestock and the environment, including their fire risk.


The report, which cost just under £25,000 to produce, was based on information collated from various industry stakeholders including the Women’s Food and Farming Union (WFU), the NFU and the CLA.


Former president of the WFU and the union’s lead on sky lanterns, Helen Bower, said: “This report dismisses farmers’ distress as ‘insignificant’. When a farmer loses livestock that loss is not insignificant.


“We will continue our push for a ban on sky lanterns and urge the Government to grasp the nettle.”


A Defra spokesman said: “Whilst farmers have lost livestock due to ingested wire from sky lanterns, the evidence from this independent report shows that any widespread risk of injury and death to cattle and impact on the environment is low. Based on these findings, we have no plans to ban the use of sky lanterns.”


It comes after dozens of reports from distraught farmers showed animals had died or had been seriously injured after ingesting the lantern parts.


Defra said although it would not ban the products, it would work alongside sky lantern manufacturers to introduce clearer danger warnings on packaging.


In addition Defra chiefs said they would work with retailers and manufacturers to publish ‘much clearer guidance to raise public awareness of how to use them responsibly’.


The UK Government has been under pressure to issue a ban, after the products were withdrawn from the Spanish market.


The Spanish authorities said the uncontrolled flying lanterns, a signal of good luck and hope, posed a risk of burns and fire.


South Lakes MP Tim Farron added he would be taking up the matter with Ministers.


He added: “Sky lanterns can cause fire damage to crops and property and pose a serious threat to animal welfare. I had hoped that this review would lead to a dramatic change so that these seemingly innocent things are not allowed to cause such suffering and damage. I cannot understand how Spain can consider them to be dangerous and a real fire risk, but that we don’t.”


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