New Year’s Eve sky lanterns could endanger property and wildlife in Sussex

Releasing sky lanterns on New Year’s Eve could put properties at risk from fire and endanger cattle and wildlife a number of organisations have warned.

Sky lanterns
Sky lanterns

Sky lanterns, also known as Chinese lanterns, consist of a paper-covered wire or bamboo frame and an open flame heat source, which lifts the lantern into the air where it can float for miles from the point of release. Once extinguished the lantern falls back to earth.

They have been banned in Wales since 2018.

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Among those warning against using sky lanterns is the RSPCA which says setting off these paper lanterns creates a risk to animals and the environment.

Sky lantern debris found yards from a thatched home ENGANL00120140201095928

A spokesperson said: “Paper lanterns aren’t safe for animals and the environment. They can cause injury, suffering and death to animals by ingestion, entanglement and entrapment. When ingested, sharp parts like the wire frame can tear and puncture an animal’s throat or stomach causing internal bleeding. Animals can also become entangled in fallen lantern frames, where they can suffer from injury and stress trying to get free or starve to death from being trapped. Marine life is also endangered by lanterns falling into the sea.”

Examples given by the RSPCA include a foal which had to be put to sleep after its legs were so badly injured from darting through a fence after being terrified by a descending sky lantern; Holly, a nine month old goat, which died after a lantern pierced her throat and a cow in Chester which died after ingesting the debris from a sky lantern.

Countryside Online, which represents British Farming is running a campaign to get sky lanterns banned. A spokesperson commented: “Once a sky lantern is lit, nobody knows exactly where it will land. Fields of standing crops, hay and straw stacks, farm buildings housing animals, thatched roofs plus lots more are all at a significant risk of being set alight.”