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NFU will continue to highlight the danger of Chinese lanterns


The NFU has vowed to continue its fight against the menace of Chinese lanterns, despite recent comments from the Government indicating it would not want to ban them completely.

Speaking in the House of Commons recently, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg recognised farmers concerns over the risks lanterns can pose to livestock and crops, but ruled out an outright ban at the present time.

Despite this, the NFU says it will continue to do all it can to work with the industry and to educate the public so that the serious problems caused by lanterns, including crop fires and livestock deaths, become a thing of the past.

The NFU has already made some significant strides, securing the agreement of a large number of event venues who have said they would not permit the release of lanterns on their premises. ITV has also agreed it would no longer carry its Chinese lantern ident before its news programming during the summer months as a result of the NFUs work.

Problems have persisted, however. In August alone there were numerous reports of crop fires caused by lanterns, including the loss of six acres of barley at a farm in Oxfordshire which needed 25 firefighters to tackle the blaze. A large number of cow fatalities have also been attributed to lanterns, with animals sometimes suffering slow and painful deaths after ingesting the wire used in their construction.

NFU Government affairs adviser Nick von Westenholz said: In the last few months alone we have seen cattle deaths, serious fires and some near misses where Chinese lanterns are concerned.

It is disappointing that the Government does not believe an outright ban on lanterns is justified at the present time. We will continue to make the strongest case for one but we will also work constructively to raise awareness of the problem; with retailers who sell lanterns, with event venues where they are often released and with the public that ultimately use them.

Progress to date has been encouraging, if a little slow. We are confident that people are increasingly aware that releasing lanterns is not always the harmless fun it appears to be.

As well as the NFU, the RNLI has also raised concerns over their use saying it has seen a large increase in the number of rescue teams and lifeboats being sent out to emergencies after they were mistaken for distress flares. A number of fire services throughout the UK have also warned of the risks of using the lanterns.

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