Dudley Council bans sky lanterns over fire fears
A Black Country council has banned sky lanterns – after hearing how just one sparked a fire storm resulting in a 6,000ft smoke plume which could be seen from 60 miles away.
Dudley councillors overwhelmingly backed a call to prevent their sale and release from local authority land in a bid to help prevent fires and harm to wildlife.
Upper Gornal and Woodsetton Councillor Adam Aston, moving the ban, said a paper lantern had caused the biggest fire in the history of West Midlands Fire Service when a recycling centre in Smethwick set alight in June 2013.
Forty fire appliances and 200 firefighters had to tackle the fire – which caused an estimated £7 million damage.
Calling for his council colleagues to ban their sale and release, Councillor Aston said he had been able to buy five lanterns online for only £10.
He said: "Releasing sky lanterns is an unregulated and uncontrolled way of putting fire into the sky.
“I have been contacted by the National Farmers Union who became aware of this evening’s motion and who have asked me to stress the suffering or death that can be caused to animals and life stock not just by fire but by sky lantern debris that can cause immense stress and injury.
“In addition, sky lanterns cause significant danger to aviation traffic with real concern that can be drawn into aircraft engines on take off and landing."
Councillor Aston added: "Local authorities across the UK including our neighbours have taken the step to ban the sale and use of sky lanterns on council owned land and it’s time we caught up.”
Councillor Les Jones, backing the ban, said: "Wildlife is constantly being killed by them, farm animals are suffering and they cause fires.
“This is not taking away people’s freedoms it is actually measuring the risk between the public’s safety and individual freedoms.”
Councillors at Dudley Council's meeting on Monday overwhelming voted for the ban with only one abstention.