Councillor wants Government to ban dangerous lanterns

Reporter:

Matt Jones

A COUNCIL could lead the way in a UK-wide ban on Chinese lanterns.

Senior Flintshire councillors will today discuss a motion to lobby the Government to grant powers to local authorities to be able to ban the “dangerous” Chinese lanterns.

Currently the lanterns are legal and local authorities have no power to impose any kind of ban.

But Cllr Dennis Hutchinson, Flintshire Council’s executive member for leisure and public protection, called for action.

He said: “Personally I think they are very dangerous and they really need to be examined thoroughly.

“If the facility was granted for us to ban them then we would certainly look at it closely. I would like to see Flintshire lead the way on this.”

New Brighton councillor Quentin Dodd proposed the motion following a wedding in Gwenermynydd, which resulted in 50 lanterns coming down on farm land in his ward.

He said: “In view of the inherent danger caused by the release and launch of Chinese lanterns, I want this county council to call upon the Westminster Parliament and the Welsh Government to introduce legislation to ban the use of such flying projectiles.

“Chinese lanterns are particularly a problem for farmers and their cattle, but secondly they are a live flame and if the wind was heading towards Nercwys Forest for example it could start a fire.

“However, the most serious aspect is they can be mistaken for flares from people who are in trouble.”

Late last year Cael Jones, four, of Penycae, Wrexham, was burnt by hot wax from a lantern and he was left scarred above his eye and severely traumatised.

Cael has now recovered from his injuries, which occurred when the oil burner section of a lantern fell onto his face from about 15ft during a family party on Bonfire Night.

Mum Emma Foulks described the incident as the worst night of her life.

She said: “Cael is doing fine now. It has healed really well, we have been really lucky.

“It could have been a lot worse.”

The family has since called for the lanterns to be banned.

Anne Wrench, from Beeches Farm in Saltney Ferry, says she often finds lanterns on her land and fears they could kill her sheep and cows or set fire to crops.

She said: “I’m absolutely 100 per cent behind this call by Flintshire Council.

“I'm part of the Women Farmers Union and we've done a campaign calling for a ban on the lanterns.

“They are mostly in the summer or on New Year's Eve but can be whenever there’s a party or celebration.

“They’re not contained – they are just sent into the air and can travel for miles.

"There was a man who lost his cow in Cheshire because of a lantern. It took three days to die.

“We've got crops as well so there's a fire risk too."

North Wales Fire and Rescue Service has received a number of calls from concerned members of the public over the lanterns.

Dave Evans, from the fire service, has issued a firm warning about the potential dangers.

He said: “Our primary concern is the risk of a smouldering lantern causing a fire and the injuries they can cause to livestock if consumed by the animal.

“Once these lanterns are released into the air there is no control over where they go.”

A spokesman for the Welsh Government said legislation for Chinese lanterns is not a devolved issue and responsibility falls with the business, innovation and skills department of the UK Government, which currently has no plans to ban Chinese lanterns.

See full story in the Leader

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