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  • Writer's pictureAyrshire Daily News

Helium balloons and sky lanterns banned from North Ayrshire Council land

Sky lanterns and helium balloons can no longer be released from land owned by North Ayrshire Council.


Pic - RSPCA

Both pose a potentially serious risk to livestock – through entanglement and choking – and to the environment and wildlife, from wildfires and litter pollution.


It has become popular in recent years for them to be sent into the sky in memory of a loved one or to mark a special event or anniversary.

A motion was put to Council, by Councillor Jean McClung and seconded by Councillor Donald Reid, calling for the release of sky lanterns and helium balloons to be banned from Council land.


Councillor McClung highlighted that sky decorations have become popular in communities in recent years, but can cause significant harm to the environment and animals, particularly livestock. She also stressed that there are potential fire risks from releasing lanterns into the air, especially in dry weather.


Councillor McClung explained that they also pose a threat to animals, as they can cause injury, suffering and death through ingestion, entanglement and entrapment.

She also pointed out that when animals eat parts of lanterns that fall to the ground sharp parts can tear and puncture their throat or stomach, causing internal bleeding.


Councillor Reid compared the release of lanterns and balloons into the air as equivalent to the throwing of rubbish from car windows in the countryside, given the littering it causes.

He said there needs to be a “starting point” to stop balloons and lanterns becoming litter, causing damage to animals and being a potential fire risk.


At a meeting of Full Council on Wednesday (May 15) elected members heard that Scottish charity Animal Concern is seeking support from local authorities across the country to help reduce the harm caused by placing restrictions on the release of helium balloons and sky lanterns on Council-owned land and property.

Members agreed to support the Animal Concern campaign and impose a complete ban on the release of sky lanterns and helium balloons from land the Council owns.


Information on the ban will be made available on the Council’s website and it will be explained to anyone booking public spaces owned by the Council.


Alternatives to releasing these types of lanterns and balloons include: fundraising to commemorate a person or event; bubble-blowing machines; planting trees or flowers or organising a memorial walk.


Councillor Tony Gurney, Cabinet Member for Green Environment and Economy, said:


“Banning these items from being released on Council land is a positive step in protecting animals and the environment, and I would encourage residents to look at alternative ways of celebrating or commemorating loved ones.”

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