SEVEN more Scottish local authorities have banned the release of sky lanterns and helium balloons on their land.

Ahead of bonfire night last year, NFU Scotland wrote to all of the councillors in those local authorities which did not already have bans in place, to call on them to help protect our farms, crofts and countryside. The authorities which have since responded by banning sky lantern and balloon releases are: Inverclyde Council, Argyll and Bute Council, Fife Council, East Lothian Council, West Lothian Council and Dundee, with Edinburgh City Council currently putting measures in place.

They join existing bans by Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire, Angus, Falkirk, Highland, Perth and Kinross, Shetland Islands and Orkney Islands. This leaves 17 councils yet to take action.

NFUS president Andrew McCornick commented: “Thank you to all those who have taken this issue forward with their local authorities to action bans. 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," he said.

“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 seven Scottish local authorities 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.

“We would encourage members to write to their local representative to encourage them to take this forward on their behalf, and a template letter is available to help them to do this easily," he added. "We look forward to hearing from those who have not yet actioned a ban on what they plan to do in future.”