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'Deadly' sky lanterns banned across Chester and Ellesmere Port to protect animals

Beacons can cause slow and painful deaths for wildlife
(Image: AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)

‘Deadly’ sky lanterns which pose a serious risk to wildlife are now banned from being released across Cheshire West.

Anyone tempted to let off a Chinese lantern over Halloween or Bonfire Night should think again.

Animals can become trapped or even ingest them, which could cause a slow and painful death.

Cheshire West and Chester Council has voted to impose the restrictions on their land with immediate effect.

The RSPCA website states: “Birds and wildlife can become entangled in the wire or bamboo frames leading to injury or death.

“Animals can accidentally eat fallen lantern parts which can cause internal bleeding, leading to a slow painful death.

“We’re pleased that a number of local councils have already banned the use of sky lanterns on all council owned land and we’d like to see other councils follow suit.

A barn owl dies after becoming entangled in the remnants of a Chinese lantern(Image: Simon Pain@Billow Farm)

Other negative impacts of sky lanterns include fire risks, littering and the safety threat to planes.

More than 10 local authorities have already brought in a similar ban including Cheshire East.

CWaC voted on the policy brought forward by cabinet member for environment Karen Shore at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday (October 26).

It prevents the 'organised' release of lanterns from council land with the threat of prosecution. It does not affect private land.

A prize cow on a Mickle Trafford farm suffered for two days before it died from eating a wire frame in 2010.

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A lit lantern also landed on a conservatory roof in Northwich in January.

The release of the beacons has become increasingly popular on public holidays and at weddings.

Councillor Stuart Parker said he had ‘first-hand experience’ of a fire caused by a sky lantern.

The organised release of sky lanterns has been banned by CWaC

He said: “They are a majestic sight across the night sky there’s no doubt about that.

“But unfortunately their serenity can have devastating consequences on the environment and animal welfare.

“When I was on holiday in Spain earlier this year, a lit lantern drifted into a skip near a restaurant causing a fire.

“I was one of the diners outside which it narrowly missed.”

A report by CWaC head of place operations Maria Byrne went before the cabinet recommending the ban.

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It said: “The organised release of sky lanterns would be to the detriment of any affected local neighbourhood and premises on the grounds of potential nuisance and would put at risk public safety.

“The absence of such a ban would compromise public safety because of the risks associated with the release of sky lanterns.

“This is as well as animal welfare as a result of the risk of harm to animals associated with their release.”

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