Sky lanterns might look pretty but they are a serious danger to animals and the countryside.
Essentially a small hot air balloon made of paper, with an opening at the bottom where a candle is suspended, sky lanterns, can float for miles before they fall to the ground.
Every year up to 200,000 sky lanterns are released in the UK. These “floating flames” are highly dangerous.
- Start wildfires
- Kill animals
- Destroy food growing in fields
- Set homes and buildings alight
And the litter they leave in their wake is a blight on our beautiful countryside.
That’s why action is needed now.
Sign our petition for a total ban on sky lanterns
Show your support sky lanterns to be totally banned in England & Wales.Sign the petition
Email your council
If your local council isn't already supporting the ban there are things that you can do to help.
Join us in our call for a complete ban on the release of sky lanterns.
Email your local council now.
Our campaign journey
NFU forms coalition calling for a national ban on sky lanterns
The NFU, alongside 17 leading farming, environment, animal and fire organisations, have written to the government to explain how their current approach not to regulate sky lanterns is now significantly out of date and out of line with other countries where the release of sky lanterns is considered an environmental crime due to the harm they cause animals, habitats and the countryside.
Fire chiefs join NFU campaign for sky lanterns ban
The NFU has been joined by the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) to increase campaigning for local authorities to ban sky lanterns and dissuade the public from setting off sky lanterns, reminding people of the dangers they pose to livestock and as a fire risk to buildings and the environment.
Former NFU Deputy President Stuart Roberts said: “We are delighted to have received the support of the NFCC on this crucial campaign, which highlights the devastating damage sky lanterns can cause to buildings and fields on farms.
The NFU would like to see a total ban of sky lanterns across England and Wales to safeguard property and animals and, while we have already seen numerous councils ban sky lanterns, I would encourage the remaining local authorities to follow the good examples set by others across the country.”
Paul Hedley, the National Fire Chiefs Council lead for wildfires, echoed the NFU's call:
"NFCC does not advocate the use of sky lanterns under any circumstances, at any time.
"They pose a hugefire hazard, impact on agriculture, thatched properties and hazardous material sites, and risk the lives of animals.A fire caused by a sky lantern can be a complex and large scale incident and have huge implications on fire services. All emergency services are currently under unprecedented pressure due to COVID-19, and sky lanterns could put additional pressure on the fire service, and further strain on the NHS.”
Farmers and other landowners have to clear up the remnants of sky lanterns from their fields. Don’t be fooled by bamboo lanterns marked ‘biodegradable’ – they can still take decades to degrade.
Once a sky lantern is lit, nobody knows exactly where it will land. Fields of standing crops, hay and straw stacks, farm buildings housing animals, thatched roofs plus lots more are all at a significant risk of being set alight.
Animals and livestock
Sky lanterns can cause suffering or even kill animals and livestock. Not just by fire, sky lantern debris can cause immense stress and injury. Some of the key dangers are:
- Animals eating lantern debris which can cause tears or punctures to internal organs leading to a potentially life-threatening situation
- Animals getting splinters in their skin which may cause infection
- Animals becoming trapped or tangled in debris
- Frames of lanterns can contaminate crops which are then unknowingly fed to animals.
Sky lanterns pose a significant danger to aviation traffic such as planes and helicopters. There are concerns that lanterns can be drawn into aircraft engines and can delay take-off and landing. In addition, lanterns drifting across a night sky are also commonly mistaken by the public and coast guards for marine distress signals.
Which councils have banned sky lanterns?
A number of councils have backed the campaign and banned the release of sky lanterns on council owned land. If you know that your local council has implemented a ban, but isn't on a list, please let us know by dropping our campaigns team an email.
Alternative ways to celebrate
Although an impressive sight, the dangers of releasing sky lanterns far outweigh the benefits. Here are just a few ideas of other ways to celebrate safely. If you've got any other ideas, we'd love to hear from you.
- Recycle your jam jars by adding a string of fairy lights or lighting a candle
- Blow bubbles to create a pretty scene
- Plant a tree or flowers in memory of your loved ones
- Create a memorial plaque
- Organise a memory walk in the great British countryside
To find out more, head over to RSPCA's website.