Council bans sky lanterns and balloons from play areas and parks
EDEN District Council has banned anyone from releasing sky lanterns and balloons on its property.
The ban covers all council-owned buildings and land including play areas, allotments and parks such as Castle Park and the Coronation Garden in Penrith.
The release of balloons and sky lanterns — also called Chinese lanterns — has become increasingly popular with an estimated 200,000 lanterns sold and released in the UK each year.
"We have taken this step to protect the environment and also animals and livestock," said Jane Langston, assistant director commissioning and technical services.
"Sky lanterns, which can float for miles, have caused fires. Also the wire frames can injure animals including livestock which may eat parts of them or become entangled. There have also been a number of cases of horses and livestock dying after choking on balloons.
‘We love to see people enjoying our beautiful parks and property, but we all need to make sure no harm is accidentally caused in the process."
The ban is also in line with the authority’s move in July to declare a climate emergency and to always consider its own ecological impact.
"We are committed to caring for the environment," said Ms Langston.
The RSPCA has asked all English councils to ban lantern and balloon releases on their land. Lanterns have been banned from council land in Wales since last year.
More than 200 firefighters fought a huge blaze at Smethwick in the Midlands in 2013 which caused £6 million worth of damage and was thought to have been caused by a sky lantern.
In June this year a bullock was found to have choked to death on a helium balloon at a farm in Northumberland. Vet Ben Stugnell, from Farm Vet Mortems, County Durham, said the animal died a "slow painful death", adding: "People need to know that if they release these objects animals will die."
The RSPCA renewed its calls for a ban two years ago after a thoroughbred foal at Harrogate choked on a balloon, breaking two legs and its neck as it ran in panic.
Eden Council says safe alternatives for anyone wanting to celebrate special occasions include using static lanterns or night lights and keeping balloons indoors, or having a virtual balloon race.