Sky lanterns consist of a paper-covered wire or bamboo frame and an open flame heat source, which lifts the lantern into the air where it can float for miles from the point of release. Once extinguished the lantern falls back to the ground and poses a significant fire risk and can be hazardous to wildlife, farm animals and equines.
Are sky lanterns banned in the UK?
Sky lanterns aren't currently banned in England or Scotland, whereas Wales have banned the use of them on all council land since February 2018.
For a number of years, we and other organisations have campaigned for England to implement the same ban on all council land and seen some success.
This year, we've escalated our campaign and joined forces with the National Farmers Union (NFU), National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) and 16 other like-minded organisations calling for a complete ban under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
The dangers of sky lanterns
Paper lanterns aren't safe for animals and the environment. They can cause injury, suffering and death to animals by:
- and entrapment.
When ingested, sharp parts like the wire frame can tear and puncture an animal's throat or stomach causing internal bleeding. Animals can also become entangled in fallen lantern frames, where they can suffer from injury and stress trying to get free or starve to death from being trapped. Marine life is also endangered by lanterns falling into the sea.
Paper lanterns are a fire hazard
Sky lanterns can cause fires as they use an open flame to float. This risk can destroy habitats and set animal housing, feed and bedding alight.
They've already been banned in some countries and fire services have issued warnings to people over the fire risk following incidents such as the Smethwick recycling plant fire.
During the dry summer months, the fire risk is increased as it's easier for grass and countryside to catch fire.
Biodegradable lanterns aren't safe alternative
Don't be fooled into thinking that 'biodegradable' paper lanterns are safe. Materials like bamboo is used instead of wire, but can take decades to degrade and there's still a fire risk.
We want people instead to use alternatives to these types of paper lanterns and avoid the danger to our countryside and animals.
What else can you do
Help us, and many other organisations including the Marine Conservation Society, Women's Food and Farming Union (WFU), Soil Association and National Farmers Union (NFU), to call for a ban on sky lanterns.
Other ways to help are:
- pick up any lantern litter
- discourage others from using lanterns
- contact event planners and retailers asking them to use safe alternatives
- contact local councils about planned releases
- write to your local MP (England).