NFUS Writes To Local Councils To Call For Dangerous Lantern Display Ban

Public urged to take into consideration impact of fireworks on livestock

Scotland’s farmers and crofters are calling on the Scottish public to have a happy – but lantern-free and considerate – bonfire night this November.

Speaking ahead of bonfires and fireworks being lit around the country on 5 November, NFU Scotland would welcome dangerous sky lanterns, known also as Chinese lanterns, being banned for both personal use, and from being part of any display. It also urges those setting off fireworks to give some consideration to any livestock that may be in fields or sheds nearby.

The lanterns, which are constructed from paper with a wire or wooden frame and contain a lighted candle, are a proven fire risk and can be a danger to animals. They pose a fire hazard to stacks of hay and straw, woodland and farm buildings.  If they land within crops grown to feed livestock, the frames risk being ingested causing great harm to livestock.

The Union understands that eight Scottish local authorities – Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire, Angus, Falkirk, Highland, Perth and Kinross and Shetland Islands, Orkney Islands – have already banned the release of sky lanterns and/or helium balloons.  NFUS will be writing to all those who haven’t put a ban in place already, to urge them to consider doing so. The union is encouraging members to write to their local council supporting a ban.

With firework season also upon us, the Union is reminding those involved in private or public firework displays to take the time to consider any livestock that may be nearby and to avoid causing them any unnecessary stress.

NFU Scotland’s Animal Health and Welfare Policy Manager, Penny Johnston said: “Bonfire night and fireworks are a long established part of celebrations at this time of year.  We believe people can have a great evening while taking the needs of those who live and work in the countryside into consideration.

“Sky lanterns are seemingly innocent devices, and are beautiful to look at, but they can cause untold damage as there is no control over where these burning structures of paper, metal and wood decide to land.

“Across the UK, there have been many reports now of fires started by lanterns and harm to the health of livestock when lanterns have landed in farmers’ fields and been eaten. There is a further risk to stock when grass is cut and ensiled for winter feed, and the wire is chopped up and subsequently contained in hay or silage.

“We applaud the action already taken against sky lanterns by eight local authorities in Scotland and we urge other councils to take their responsibilities as seriously. We also ask members of the public to avoid the use of lanterns, and to understand the risks that these can pose.

“Fireworks are a long established part of the celebrations at this time of year and we don’t want to stop anyone having fun. However, given the noise and bright lights, it is unsurprising that each bonfire night also brings a few reports of cattle, sheep, horses and dogs being scared and traumatised when fireworks are set off irresponsibly.

“Although winter is approaching, the fantastic autumn weather means that many livestock can still be found in the fields around Scotland’s cities, towns and villages.   Taking the time to inform their keepers of any planned or private firework displays may prevent any unnecessary suffering for animals.

“Similarly, where livestock have been housed for the winter in sheds that are close to public places, consideration should be given to the wellbeing of the animals before any fireworks are set off nearby.

“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.”

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