VICTIMS of Chinese lanterns who had a “lucky escape” have called for them to be banned.
Cases where a child was nearly burned to death, and a pensioner’s home nearly went up in flames, have been highlighted as Flintshire Council announced yesterday it was considering banning the sky lanterns from being lit on council-owned land.
Aston councillor George Hardcastle described the lanterns as “death traps” as he recalled how one landed on his grandson’s tent nearly two years ago adding: “He could have burned to death.”
He said: “If it wasn’t for my daughter running 100 yards to pull it off the tent with her hands, it could have been a really, really bad accident.
“They should be banned. They’re a threat to wildlife and they’re a threat to human life.”
Gwyneth Griffiths who was asleep when her home on Hilltop Close, Ewloe, went up in flames said the lanterns “have the potential to kill”.
The 67-year-old retired teacher, whose conservatory roof was burned through by the lantern, added: “It could have been a lot worse.
“I think people need to be educated more about the potential harm they can cause. I didn’t have a clue.
“I think they should be banned.”
Flintshire Council said it would rather encourage the public to be more careful with the lanterns before banning them - but if that failed, councillors would consider further action.
It is considering the proposals after Welsh Government natural resources minister Alun Davies wrote to all local authorities in Wales to encourage them to introduce a voluntary ban on the release of sky lanterns and helium balloons.
The Marine Conservation Society and Keep Wales Tidy previously also called for an outright ban, but following a report to the Welsh Government in July, it was concluded the ban could not be justified, and instead use would be discouraged.
Cllr Hardcastle slammed the Welsh Government’s decision adding: “I’m very disappointed. They should be banned everywhere [not just on council-owned land].”
With bonfire night approaching, Cllr Hardcastle of the lanterns: “They will be flying all over the place. They look great in the sky but when they start dropping down, where will they end up?”
Cllr Kevin Jones, Flintshire Council cabinet member for public protection, waste and recycling said: “Because of these issues, Flintshire Council wants to discourage the release of Chinese lanterns and is minded to consider an outright ban on their release from council=owned land, but it will first encourage the public to make an informed choice and take a more responsible approach.
“Should such an approach not be forthcoming then we would consider what future action may be required.”
The UK Government has said that it will make manufacturers of Chinese lanterns place clear warnings on their packaging and Flintshire supports this proposal.
In a letter to local authorities in Wales, Mr Davies warned of the dangers posed by the objects to animals and the risk of fire, highlighted by a recent fire at a plastic recycling plant in the West Midlands.
He said: “A recent independent report has found the fire risk associated with the use of sky lanterns is significant; while we also know that the ingestion of debris from lanterns can kill or seriously harm an animal.
“We want to make people aware of the risks and that is why I have written to local authorities across Wales to encourage them to introduce a voluntary ban on the release of sky lanterns and helium balloons.”