The CLA (Country Land and Business Association) is calling for sky lanterns to be banned after it was suggested they should be released every Sunday to show support for the NHS.

The call is in line with Defra and the National Fire Chiefs Council who warned about the dangers of lighting sky lanterns.

Sky lanterns use the power of a small candle to carry them into the air with their distance and direction uncontrollable. They have been attributed to the start of fires in farm buildings and at industrial estates as well as causing horrific injury to animals.

The risks extend beyond fire. The metal, or sometimes bamboo, frame can be eaten by livestock causing devastating injuries.

Whilst some lanterns are considered “biodegradable” they can take several years to disintegrate into the ground, by which point they have been cut up by forage harvesters into shreds bound into feed bales and later entering the animal’s gut as fatal shards of bamboo.

There is also considerable risk to homes, farm buildings and industrial sites.

CLA Director South West Ann Maidment said: “Releasing a naked flame, with absolutely no control over where it will land, is a serious threat to rural businesses, livestock, wildlife and the environment.

“There is simply no responsible way to use sky lanterns. They can kill animals, litter the countryside and pose a huge risk to the start of fires, especially as the ground is extremely dry at the moment. This can cause another national emergency when our resources are already stretched.

“These are all reasons why we’ve been campaigning for a number of years to get sky lanterns banned.

“We are all keen to celebrate the invaluable work of the NHS at this terrible time, but there are much better ways to show our support than releasing dangerous and damaging sky lanterns. What an extraordinary waste of money! This money can be directed towards those working very hard to tackle this crisis.”

Buy the print edition every Sunday or subscribe to our online edition HERE.