With the combines starting to roll across Sussex’s fields for this year’s harvest, the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) is appealing for the public to not release Chinese lanterns.
The CLA fears that standing crops and straw stacks will be at risk because of an expected upsurge in lantern sales and use fuelled by the holiday and wedding seasons.
A CLA spokesman said: “We don’t want to spoil people’s fun, but people should be aware that these lanterns are serious fire hazards.
“They also endanger the lives of grazing livestock as well as other wildlife, and create unnecessary litter.
“Releasing a naked flame with absolutely no control over where it will land poses a serious threat to rural businesses, wildlife and the environment.
“If one of these flying bonfires were to land in a tinder dry field or on a straw stack then the farmer could be facing a very costly blaze that would not only endanger his business, but potentially human lives too.
“There is also the real threat the remnants of the lantern could be cut up and end up in silage eaten by cattle, which would cause the unfortunate animal to suffer a slow and agonising death.”
A report published in 2013 on behalf of Defra that investigated the impact of sky lanterns on livestock and the environment estimated between three and eight million lanterns are sold each year in the UK.
It concluded that ‘the fire risk associated with the use of sky lanterns is significant”.
While many local authorities have decided to ban lanterns from being sold or released from their land and property, the Government has not yet ordered a ban.
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