City of York Council is set to consider introducing restrictions on the release of sky lanterns on Council-owned property or council-approved events, due to the environmental and fire hazards they pose.
There is widespread evidence of the risks that sky lanterns (sometimes known as Chinese Lanterns) pose to the environment, both as a fire hazard and because of the remains of the lanterns themselves. It is estimated around 200,000 of the lanterns are released each year in the UK.
If approved, this decision would see sky lantern use restricted on Council-owned property, including in future residential and commercial tenancy agreements/leases. It would also be included in the approval process for events on Council owned land, through the Events Safety Advisory Group and within Make it York Events contracts.
The Council would proactively engage with businesses, parish councils, landowners, schools, residential homes, council tenants, social housing providers, charities and community groups, to raise awareness of safer and more environmentally friendly alternatives that people can celebrate with, through promotion and campaigns.
The ban on sky lanterns is supported by organisations including the Fire Service, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), the Soil Association and the National Farmers Union (NFU). Around 160 councils have enforced bans, whilst internationally, sky lanterns are broadly banned in Germany, Austria, Argentina, Chile, Columbia, Spain, Vietnam, Brazil and Australia.
Liberal Democrat Councillor Paula Widdowson, Executive Member for Environment & Climate Change commented:
“This is a common-sense response to the very harmful impact that sky lantern releases can have on our environment and wildlife, from pollution to severe fire hazards.
"There are many alternatives that people can use to enjoy celebrations which avoid the unnecessary harm that sky lanterns can cause in our local communities and wildlife.”