Police and Crime Commissioner backing South Kesteven District Council move to ban Chinese lantern releases from its land

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The county’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Marc Jones is urging all councils in Lincolnshire to follow the lead of South Kesteven in moving to outlaw the use of Chinese lanterns on its parks and other public land.

South Kesteven District Council is set to ban the release of Chinese lanterns on its own land over concerns of the “negative impact” on the environment and wildlife.

Senior councillors are expected to adopt a position statement on sky lanterns and balloons at a cabinet meeting next week on Tuesday, January 21.

It means releases would be prohibited on council-owned parks or open spaces.

There is no national legislation to control the release of lanterns and balloons, which means local authorities have to take their own positions on the issue.

PCC Marc Jones hailed it ‘outstanding news’ on his Twitter feed. He said: “This needs to become a national ban. It’s not ok to set light to something and let it fly up and land somewhere random and potentially leave the wire and paper to be eaten by livestock.”

He then appealed to other district councils to follow suit after applauding Craig Leyland, Leader of East Lindsey District Council who revealed that they too were in the process of banning them from being used on council property.

Coun Leyland said: “Let’s make Lincolnshire a lantern free county.

“We should spread the word. Sky lanterns are harmful to wildlife and livestock and are a fire risk to crops and property. Why would you launch one?”

The measure follows the increase in popularity of releasing Chinese lanterns into the sky at charity events or other occasions.

But, SKDC said the balloons and lanterns can pose a choking or entanglement hazard to natural wildlife and livestock.

It added that it is “impossible to control where they land” and that they can often land in “streams and rivers which may lead to the sea”.

In its position statement which is expected to be adopted next week, the council said it is committed to protecting the local environment.

It said: “The council will not allow the intentional release of sky (Chinese) lanterns and balloons on its own land which is open to the public, including council owned parks or open spaces.

“The council is committed to creating a clean and attractive environment across the district.

“Through taking this decision, the council aims to raise awareness of the negative impacts of the intentional release of sky (Chinese) lanterns and balloons on the environment, wildlife and livestock. 

“It is hoped that publicising this statement will also lead to greater public awareness and a reduction in smaller scale private releases.”

The authority said while the statement does not give the council enforcement rights, the policy “should be viewed as a longer term ambition to promote good practice” and to educate the public.

A similar measure was taken by neighbouring Rutland County Council in December last year.

The authority banned Chinese lanterns and helium balloons from Oakham Castle and other council-run venues over fire risk concerns to animals and the environment.

Meanwhile, North Kesteven District Council is more reluctant to commit to a ban on its land, saying:

“We have not received any complaints from landowners, farmers, animal owners or anyone who has suffered any kind of detrimental effects from what is now a fairly low level of release of these lanterns or balloons. In order to reasonably consider introducing a voluntary ban, the council would need to receive evidence of local impact.

“Whilst other councils may have introduced a ban, the reality is, we have very little control over the usage of lanterns and balloons and no regulatory powers to enforce non-use or enforcement powers to secure a conviction. In order for a local ban to be effective, the council reasonably has to consider whether it has the means to regulate the activity.”

The authority preferred to keep out of the debate and not enter a conflict with residents over the matter saying: “The council is more than happy to respond to any situation where we can make residents lives more safe and enjoyable. However, it is very unlikely that the council would adopt policies that are ineffective and that could lead to disputes between neighbours and possibly the local authority.”