TWO FURTHER Scottish councils have confirmed a ban on sky lanterns and helium balloons, following pressure from NFU Scotland – which has called on 20 other local councils to follow suit.

At the end of October, the union wrote to the 24 local authorities in Scotland which had yet to put a ban in place, calling on councillors to consider the untold damage sky lanterns can cause.

Since then, NFUS has received a response from councillors from nine local authorities – two of which, Inverclyde Council and Fife Council, have now put a ban in place. Edinburgh City Council is expected to discuss motions put forward by two of its councillors; whilst West Lothian Council is putting together a policy to go to Full Council in the New Year.

These councils join eight other Scottish local authorities – Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire, Angus, Falkirk, Highland, Perth and Kinross and Shetland Islands, Orkney Islands – which have already banned the release of sky lanterns and/or helium balloons.

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 standing crops, 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.

Union president Allan Bowie said: “We welcome the bans that have been put in place by Inverclyde Council and Fife Council in recent weeks and thank the councillors for taking this forward following our correspondence. However, there is still a lot of work to do, as 20 other authorities have yet to consider this. 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 the 12 Scottish 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 and call on the councils who haven’t put bans in place to consider doing so.”