Appeal to stop using Chinese Lanterns

Thursday January 19th 2017

Chinese Lanterns paddock

A Midlothian horse owner has appealed for people to stop using Chinese lanterns because of the danger to animals.

This week Dawn Blackwood found a burnt out lantern near to her horses. Dawn said:

“Luckily, for my horses, none of them were set alight with this but had it landed on their rugs they would have gone up in flames with a burning rug strapped to them.”

Dawn keeps her horses in a paddock near to Cockpen cemetery and believes that someone lit a Chinese lantern from the Cemetery. Dawn is very sympathetic to people wanting to remember their loved ones, but says:

“Whilst you are thinking of ways to remember your loved ones, please please please spare a thought for my poor horses grazing in the next field from you and other horses and farm animals near by.

“A much safer gesture would be to light a candle and leave it at the cemetery. I have loved ones at that cemetery too and they would hate for any of my poor horses to be burned alive due to them.”

In November, Midlothian Council agreed to a proposal from Councillor Peter de Vink to ban Chinese lanterns from being released from council owned land.

To date, nine local authorities in Scotland have banned the use of sky lanterns and or helium balloon release and the National Farmers Union Scotland are working to urge other councils to follow suit and help to make farms, crofts, and wider countryside safer.

The lanterns are constructed from paper with a wire or wooden frame and contain a lighted candle which, whilst seemingly innocent, as they are released can pose a fire hazard to stacks of straw, woodland and farm buildings. If they land within livestock fields, or amongst crops grown for livestock feed, the wires risk being ingested by livestock and have been seen to cause great harm and suffering to animals.

Given the damage that Chinese lanterns can cause to the environment, property and animals, National Farmers Union Scotland would like to see greater public awareness of these risks. The Union believes that it is the responsibility of councils, to publicly recognise these risks by banning the use of Sky Lanterns on council owned property and at council run events.

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