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Should sky lantern and mass balloon releases be banned in Norfolk?

PUBLISHED: 17:10 07 March 2019

Norfolk County Council could launch a charter calling for organisations to take a stand against mass balloon releases Picture: James Bass

Norfolk County Council could launch a charter calling for organisations to take a stand against mass balloon releases Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk © 2016

They can create marvellous spectacles for the most memorable of occasions, as they drift into the skies.

Independent councillor Sandra Squire has spoken out against mass balloon releases Picture: Sandra SquireIndependent councillor Sandra Squire has spoken out against mass balloon releases Picture: Sandra Squire

However, the potentially disastrous impact of sky lanterns and mass balloon releases could see County Hall call on other organisations to seek alternative ways of marking events.

Norfolk County Council has already stamped these out on their own land, however, councillors could now make further moves to prevent such displays in future.

Members of a task group at County Hall are calling on organisations to sign up to a charter and pledge to discourage balloon and lantern releases, which have become popular ways of spreading messages, paying tributes or promoting causes.

Instead the group wants to see these replaced with what are described as “safer alternatives” including tree planting, flag flying and banners.

The environmental concerns around lanterns and balloon releases include the risk of spreading wildfire, waste pollution and wildlife ingesting latex from the balloons.

Sandra Squire, the independent councillor who floated the idea as a motion to full council in October, said she was pleased to see progress being made.

She said: “Mass balloon releases are something I have felt passionately about for a number of years now.

“I once took part in the Clipper Round the World yacht race and was sailing in the middle of the Atlantic. On one side of the yacht there were dolphins swimming - on the other side were lots of balloons.

“I found it astounding that even thousands of miles away from land there were so many things clearly put there by humans.

“While I recognise it is a tricky subject, as they are often used to commemorate loved ones, but I do not know anybody who would want to be remembered for harming wildlife.”

The proposed charter has been based on one introduced in Dorset, which calls on organisations to agree to support campaigns against balloon releases, encourage retailers to sell alternatives and promote restrictions on releases in all open spaces.

Signing the charter would also see organisations pledging to lobby the government for a ban on releases of balloons and sky lanterns.

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