18 January 2023| | 2 min read
People urged not to release balloons and sky lanterns in Newcastle
People are being encouraged to choose alternative ways to mark commemorative events, instead of releasing balloons and sky lanterns which can cause serious harm to wildlife and the environment.
While balloon and lantern releases are carried out with good intentions, they can be very harmful to animals and cause litter when they fall back onto land or in the sea.
Sky lanterns, also called Chinese lanterns, are usually made from paper and wire and function like hot air balloons.
The flame inside the paper shell warms the air inside, which enables the lanterns to float for miles.
It is impossible to control where they land but when they do, the lanterns can be a fire risk to crops, forests and buildings.
Animals may also eat the lanterns or become trapped in the wires which can have fatal consequences.
Helium balloons can cause serious harm to wildlife too as they can often be mistaken for food.
If eaten, the balloons can cause animals and birds to suffer internal injuries or choke to death.
Newcastle City Council is reminding people that balloon and lantern releases are prohibited on council-owned land and they should use alternative methods to celebrate or mark commemorative events.
Cllr Jane Byrne, the Council’s Cabinet member for a Connected City, said: “Balloon and sky lantern releases can cause unnecessary suffering to animals and have a devastating impact on the environment.
“There are lots of different ways to celebrate or mark an occasion which are much more environmentally-friendly, such as planting a tree or flowers or organising a memorial walk for a charity.
“We strongly urge people to use these alternative methods so we can protect wildlife and the environment for future generations.”
As part of the Council’s biodiversity initiatives, discussions are under way to create a memorial meadow in the city.
The meadow will be a place where wildflower seeds could be planted in memory of loved ones.
For more information about the harm balloon releases can cause, visit www.newcastle.gov.uk/services/environment-and-waste/environmental-health-and-pollution/sky-lanterns-and-helium-balloons.
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