WITH MANY parts of the UK still tinder-dry, a new petition calling for a total ban on sky lanterns has received support from more than 50,000 members of the public.

Led by the English NFU, the campaign has called on the Government to follow the lead of hundreds of local councils and introduce an outright ban on these airborne naked flames.

Farm union campaigning on the issue has succeeded in encouraging 185 councils out of 333 across England and Wales to voluntarily ban sky lanternson land owned by these councils. ENFU deputy president Tom Bradshaw said: “This huge amount of public support demonstrates the urgent need for a ban on sky lanterns.

Read more: Government urged to introduce national ban on sky lanterns

“As we continue to experience very dry weather in many places, alongside some of the highest temperatures on record over the past few weeks, this has increased the risk of fires being started by items like sky lanterns. Even in the past week, there have been reports of some farmers finding released sky lanterns on their farms, which is unbelievable when you think of the fires these could have started.

"At this time of year in particular, a fire caused by a sky lantern would be devastating to crops, as well as buildings and machinery, and pose a risk to life.

“Now is the time for Defra to take action. There are around 200,000 sky lanterns released in the UK each year and while the possibility of fire is great in the summer months, they can also harm animals and wildlife all year round. If an animal eats a fallen lantern it could lead to horrible injuries or even death.

“Countries around the world including Germany, Austria and Brazil all understand the risk of sky lanterns and have implemented a ban on them. We urge the Government to follow in their footsteps and create a safe, cleaner, greener countryside, by introducing a total ban on sky lanterns."