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People reminded of dangers of Chinese lanterns to farm animals

With bonfire night this Sunday, people are being reminded of the risks posed to live stock and farm animals when using Chinese lanterns.

Many people will be considering buying Chinese lanterns for their bonfire celebrations but Staffordshire County Council’s Animal Health Team is warning people that lanterns can be harmful to livestock.  If the debris lands in rural areas, the wire parts can be eaten by farm animals which can cause serious injury or death.

The paper lanterns consist of a candle or a fuel cell filled with paraffin wax suspended inside a frame of wire or bamboo. When lit, they float gently upwards and drift away, landing when the fuel has run out. They can reach up to 3,000ft in height and drift for several miles in the breeze, landing anywhere.

Staffordshire County Council has already banned the use of Chinese lanterns on all its land and property including its county farms and country parks.

Gill Heath, Cabinet Member for Environment and Communities at Staffordshire County Council  said:

“These lanterns may well look pretty when they float off into the night sky but when the debris lands on our countryside and are eaten by animals and livestock it can cause real problems.

“We are a very rural county and I’ve seen first-hand the damage that these lanterns can cause.  That’s why we took the decision to ban them on our land and farms a number of years ago. Over the bonfire celebrations I know people will be tempted to buy them and set them off but I would ask them to think again.”

The use of Chinese lanterns has also been criticised as a potential fire risk because once released there is no control of where and when they will land and how long they stay alight for.

Gill added:

“There are also Chinese lanterns with bamboo hoops available which are labelled “100% biodegradable but even these can still take time to biodegrade.   Our animal health team have also seen items labelled as “100%” biodegradable” which still contain metal parts.  These are being misdescribed, which is against the law and we want people to contact our Trading Standards team if they come across them.”

Staffordshire County Council’s Animal Health Team can be contacted on 01785 277875 or by e mail: animal.health@staffordshire.gov.uk.

Staffordshire Trading Standards can be contacted on 0300 111 8000.