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TAKEN STEPS: Council moves to ban Chinese lanterns on its land

TAKEN STEPS: Council moves to ban Chinese lanterns on its land

Chinese lanterns can be damaging to the environment and have the potential to cause fires

A council has taken steps to ban so-called Chinese lanterns, along with helium balloons from its land.

Redcar and Cleveland Council’s cabinet approved the insertion of a new condition into any event licenses it approves on its land or property, meaning the items cannot be sold or released.

The condition will also be included in other licences issued concerning land or property owned and/or controlled by the local authority.

Failure to comply would be a breach of a licence, which could then be terminated by the council.

The move follows an incident in February when a flying lantern struck a barn near Guisborough, sparking a fire, which was prevented from spreading to a nearby stable block containing ten horses by the quick thinking actions of farm hands.

chinese lantern

A firefighter holds up the remnants of the chinese lantern that sparked a fire near Guisborough, Image: Julie Todd

It prompted Councillor Anne Watts, the member for Belmont ward, to propose a successful motion which called for a report to be prepared for cabinet with a view to implementing the most appropriate action available to the council.

It has also been agreed that council leader Mary Lanigan sends a letter to the Government on behalf of the council calling for national legislation against the use of Chinese lanterns.

Chinese lanterns, also known as sky lanterns or flying lanterns, are essentially small hot air balloons made of paper with an opening at the bottom where a small fire is suspended.

The lanterns are released into the air once lit, until they burn out and drop to the ground.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) advises against their use, but has stopped short of introducing national legislation making them illegal, instead leaving it to the discretion of local authorities.

As well as the fire risks, the RSPCA says they can be ingested by animals, who also face the risk of becoming entangled within them.

Helium balloons, typically made out of latex, can also cause significant harm by entanglement and choking and take considerably longer to degrade than paper lanterns.

The council said it would subsequently regard the release of balloons and Chinese lanterns from any land or buildings it owns as potential littering and would “act where appropriate”.

Piloted hot air balloons will continue to be permitted along with balloons for research purposes, such as weather balloons, if  supporting evidence is provided, identifying any risks to the environment, and with any appropriate mitigation.

Meanwhile, the council has also agreed to ban snares from its land or property.

Snares are thin wire nooses set up to trap animals considered as pests or vermin by their leg or neck, such as foxes and rabbits, and can lead to slow, lingering deaths.

In 2016 MPs voted to ban the devices, but this was rejected by the Government, which proposed a new code of practice instead.

Redcar and Cleveland Council owns a range of open space, allotment and other land which it lets to individuals and organisations under the terms of farm business tenancies, allotment agreements, leases and short-term licences.

Previously such agreements did not specifically prohibit the use of snares.

As agreed by the cabinet, a clause will be introduced in all new tenancies and licences of council owned property and those to be renewed.

Existing tenants and licensees will also be asked to voluntarily comply.

A council report said that it aimed to provide an example to other agencies and individuals to prevent the unnecessary suffering of animals.

It also said the council would ensure that all pest control treatments are carried out humanely and by licensed, trained and experienced people.

The council said its new policies would help to enhance the natural environment and seek to reduce harm to wildlife, livestock and land and property.

 

Words: Stuart Arnold, Local Democracy Reporter


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