South of Scotland MSP and Scottish Labour’s Rural Economy Spokesperson Colin Smyth is urging the Scottish Government to consider a complete ban on sky lanterns, following reports that a mass release of these items this weekend was being promoted.

Sky lanterns are constructed from paper with a wire or wooden frame and contain a lighted candle.

When sky lanterns fall on farmland, they can have devastating effects on those farm businesses. They are also a serious fire risk to farm buildings, which may house hay and straw, or other flammable products.

They also pose a threat to animal health if they land on farms as 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.

NFU Scotland has written to the lantern manufacturer allegedly promoting the mass release. The union has also written to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Police Scotland, Scottish Ambulance Service, politicians and local authorities seeking their support on bringing this to a halt.

Colin Smyth said: “NFU Scotland has long called for the permanent ban of these lanterns, which are a proven fire risk, and that must now be considered by the Scottish Government.

“While the sentiment of wanting to recognise the efforts of our amazing NHS and other key workers is admirable, there are other ways to do it which don’t involve sending these dangerous items into our countryside.

“I would urge anyone to think twice before using sky lanterns at this time when our emergency services are already hard pressed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Sky lanterns not only pose a risk to land and buildings but also to animals. Our famers are also working extremely hard to continue to provide food for us during this difficult time, let’s not make their jobs even harder and more dangerous.”

NFU Scotland President and Dumfriesshire farmer Andrew McCornick said: “It is unbelievable and totally unacceptable that companies are encouraging the public to demonstrate support for our hardworking frontline services by something that is at a high risk of increasing the burden on them.

“The Wildfire Danger Assessment in Scotland for the coming days is extreme; land, buildings and property will also be placed at risk by these items and animal health will be compromised should they land on farms.

“This must be stopped, and we call on all those we have written to rally behind a call to have the release of sky lanterns banned.

“We suggest that they use social media and public statements to urge the general public not to take part in this campaign, but to continue to use safe ways to thank our front-line workers, such clapping, music and colourful rainbows in their windows.

“At this critical time, support for those in the frontline is best achieved by following Government advice, staying home, keeping safe, not undertaking any non-essential work or travel and by not engaging in any unnecessary activity that might potentially place any additional burden on our emergency services.”


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