As bonfire night approaches, NFU Scotland is urging people to consider their agricultural neighbours and avoid using dangerous sky lanterns this year.
Sky lanterns are constructed from paper with a wire or wooden frame and contain a lighted candle, they are a proven fire risk and can be a danger to animals and farm buildings. It is NFU Scotland’s stance that these should not be available to the public as there is no way to guarantee them landing safely.
When sky lanterns fall on farm land they can have devastating effects on those farm businesses. The frame material can get mixed up into feed, such as silage or grain, and be accidently digested by livestock the effects of which can be fatal.
Lanterns are also a serious risk to farm buildings, which may house hay and straw, or other flammable products. Sky lanterns have been known to set fire to sheds, causing serious damage and loss to the farm business. With straw and hay at such a premium this year any incident like this could cause significant financial hardship for farmers and crofters.
NFU Scotland has previously called on local councils to ban the use of sky lanterns and would like to repeat this plea as we approach bonfire night on Monday 5 November. A number of councils have already responded to the NFUS call to ban lanterns, by banning their release from council owned land and properties, but there are still some who still allow these dangerous devices to be released by the public.
NFU Scotland’s Animal Health and Welfare Policy Manager, Penny Middleton said: “Although these lanterns seem to be innocent fun, they can in fact be very dangerous both for farm animals, who often end up ingesting them, and farm buildings which are extremely susceptible to fire damage from them.
“I would discourage people from incorporating these devices into their displays this year and ask them to consider farmers and crofters, who could end up paying a heavy cost for their brief enjoyment.
“We applaud the action already taken against sky lanterns by those local authorities in Scotland who have already imposed a ban and we urge other councils to take their responsibilities as seriously.
“We would also ask that you consider any neighbouring livestock and other animals when planning fireworks display, even taking simple measures to warn animal keepers of a planned display can allow them to take measures to protect their stock. Every year there are reports of pets and livestock being traumatised by fireworks going off too close to them in their homes and fields.
“Bonfire night is a long standing and well-loved tradition in the UK and we do not want to be spoil anyone’s fun. However, taking the time to consider the impact of any display – planned or otherwise – will ensure that all can enjoy this traditional, colourful but noisy time of year.”