Why are councils clamping down on sky lanterns and helium balloons?

Animal Concern's campaign centres around the effect sky lanterns and helium balloons have on animal welfare.

Why are Scottish councils clamping down on sky lanterns and helium balloons? Getty Images

A number of councils across Scotland are placing restrictions on sky lanterns and helium balloons, with some even banning them following a campaign.

North Ayrshire Council is the latest local authority to back charity Animal Concern’s campaign to restrict the release of the lanterns and balloons on council-owned land and property.

Councillors voted unanimously to support the ban, joining approximately two thirds of all local councils in Scotland to have introduced measures to clamp down on the products.

Why are restrictions being brought in?

Animal Concern’s campaign centres around the effect sky lanterns and helium balloons have on animal welfare.

Campaigners say household pets and farm animals are at risk of ingesting the items and that lanterns act as a fire hazard to wildlife and natural habitats.

Animals may attempt to eat grounded lanterns or helium balloons, which can cause death by asphyxiation.

The lanterns are made from a bamboo frame and wire and if damaged on landing and then ingested can perforate flesh or internal organs, leading to organ failure or internal bleeding.

Sky lantern.Pixabay

A naked flame is released and in the event of the flame not being fully extinguished, a fire hazard can be caused especially during summer months, said Animal Concern.

Wildlife may also become entangled in a lantern’s wire frame, putting them at risk of being snared, as recently banned by the Wildlife Management and Muirburn Act.

The final landing place of lanterns and helium balloons are “uncontrollable” say campaigners and can be contingent on wind speed, direction and fuel source.

Which councils have voted to restrict or ban them?

Twenty three of Scotland’s 32 local authorities have introduced restrictions on sky lanterns and helium balloons including the likes of Aberdeen City Council, Glasgow City Council and the Highland Council.

City of Edinburgh Council, Clackmannanshire Council and East Renfrewshire Council are among those yet to bring in restrictions on either.

Midlothian and Stirling Council have both brought in restrictions on lanterns only, while Orkney and Shetland have introduced measures to clamp down on helium balloons.

Animal Concern said all of the 32 authorities have been contacted by them about the campaign.

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