East Anglia: ‘Inconclusive’ Chinese lantern report comes under fire from landowners’ group

Fire damage said to have been caused by a Chinese lantern landing in a Norfolk field

Fire damage said to have been caused by a Chinese lantern landing in a Norfolk field - Credit: Archant

Landowners’ leaders have criticised a report on the impact of Chinese lanterns on livestock and the environment as “inconclusive and unsatisfactory”.

Country Land and Business Association (CLA) eastern region director Nicola Currie, who has been campaigning for a ban on Chinese or sky lanterns because of the threat posed to property, farmland and livestock has expressed disappointment in the study, carried out by environmental and agricultural consultants ADAS for the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

It has come under fire for failing to back calls for a ban.

The report said the number of animals affected through panic and fright and through ingestion of sky lanterns was “very small”.

“On the basis of the evidence presented in this report, while recognising the impact of individual cases it is difficult to conclude that the overall impact of sky lanterns on livestock and animal health is anything other than of minor significance,” it said.

However, the ADAS team concluded that the fire risk association with the use of the lanterns is “significant”, and recommended that potential mitigation options should be looked at.

“A significant issue is that there is no single trade body to represent and co-ordinate the activities of sky lantern suppliers at present and to work with approved testing and inspection bodies to set safety standards,” it said.

Most Read

The Chinese lantern market in the UK is thought to be worth between £6million and £16m a year.

The study was carried out to identify and assess the risks the sky lanterns pose, along with the risks posed by helium balloons and establish an evidence base to help inform future policy decisions.

The CLA said the report had failed to recognise the true scale of the threat posed. Mrs Currie called on the public to help collect evidence of the damage caused by lanterns.

“DEFRA is under the impression that the main risk posed by sky lanterns is to aircraft. In fact there is plenty of evidence these flying bonfires are damaging property and crops and harming and killing cattle.” she said.

The study reported around 16 cases of injury or death to cattle, sheep or horses and admitted there may be a ‘significant level of under-reporting by veterinary surgeons and others’, she pointed out.

“Yet this inconclusive and unsatisfactory report still concluded the impact on livestock was very small,” she said.

“We are advising our members not to use sky lanterns nor to allow their use on their land. We want Mr Heath to take our call for a ban seriously for the sake of farming, wildlife, the environment and property-owners. To help in this the CLA Eastern office is asking those who have experienced problems from sky lanterns to contact info@eastern to help collect evidence.”