Local farmers and landowners have teamed up to successfully stop the go-ahead of the first mass release of ‘fire balloons’ on rural land later this year.
In response to Shine Up Fest, a four-day sky lantern festival, nearly 2000 south-east residents pledged their support in an online petition with the help of Farmers Guardian’s Say No to Sky Lanterns campaign.
Protestors said the idea to launch the event in September was ‘totally irresponsible’ and slammed it an equivalent to ‘legalised arson’.
The event has since been cancelled.
Susan Tanner, chief executive of the National Outdoor Events Association (NOEA), who has been working alongside FG to tackle the use of sky lanterns at events across the country, said it was time event organisers took control and banned lanterns on a nationwide scale.
She said: “Sky lanterns are pretty, but they are also extremely dangerous.
“In essence, every time one is released it is the equivalent of lighting a ball of flame and leaving it to the wind in terms of where it lands.
“As an association we are trying to put an end to this irresponsible activity and, by supporting the Farmers Guardian Say No to Sky Lanterns petition, we can help persuade some event organisers not only that it is dangerous, but many people just do not want them.”
It came as farmers questioned the legitimacy of the ‘100 per cent biodegradable’ sky lanterns - made from paper, bamboo and string - after organisers said the event played a major part in ‘helping the environment’.
But Shine Up Fest event manager Alan Brown said a team of ‘lantern chasers’ was set to litter pick all of the lanterns to minimize any risk to livestock.
He said the event adhered to the Defra industry code of practice after Farming Minister George Eustice previously ruled out a complete ban on sky lanterns, saying the impact on livestock and the environment was ‘minor’.
Mr Brown added: “Due to the reaction from some concerned members of the public we have cancelled Shine Up at the Kent Event Centre on September 9 2017 for the time being in order to maintain our own and the venue’s established reputation.
“We have extensively researched this event and are confident in our detailed plans to hold this event safely. Part of this is to ensure that lanterns used are made from paper, bamboo and string – no wire.
“We cut no cost in providing safe events for participants and the surrounding livestock and environment. We will not sacrifice our established reputation for short-term gains.”