Government review of sky lanterns could solve Widemouth Bay concerns

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By Em_Williams | Friday, November 30, 2012, 12:38

Residents of Widemouth Bay near Bude and North Cornwall MP Dan Rogerson have welcomed a government pledge to try and sort problems caused by sky lanterns. Earlier this month the Coalition Government's Agriculture Minister, David Heath, launched an independent study to assess the risks sky lanterns pose to livestock, crops and the environment and to see what could be done to address concerns that people have about them.

People living in Widemouth Bay were the first to contact Mr Rogerson about the problem and he has since been working with farmers, residents and Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service since to look at ways to tackle the matter.

The sky lanterns, which rise into the sky after a flame inside the lantern is lit, also contain a metal frame which falls back to the ground after the flame is extinguished which have caused problems for residents and farmers in particular. Possible solutions include bio-degradable lanterns, ones without metal that would be able to be digested by livestock, or a complete ban like the one being introduced next year in Spain.

Speaking about the problems that lanterns have caused in the area, Rachel Roberts of Widemouth Residents' Group said: "Thatched properties in Widemouth are worried about the lanterns landing on their roofs and farmers who have found the wire remnants in their fields are worried that some may have been missed and become entangled in bales which may endanger their livestock.

"Lanterns launched from the beach- the site of choice- always come on shore due to prevailing winds. We would support a ban as it's impossible to ensure safe use."

Dan Rogerson added: "I am glad that the Coalition Government have recognised the need to address the problems that lanterns are causing in rural areas like North Cornwall and are carrying out this study to see what we can do about it.

"I look forward to a practical solution that will prevent the distress and damage that these lanterns can cause."

Speaking about the review, Agriculture Minister David Heath said: "This investigation will find out just what effect sky lanterns are having on farming and the environment.

"Given the concerns being raised about sky lanterns, I want to find out as much as possible about their impact - especially the ways other countries have dealt with them - to make sure we can make sure we can all enjoy celebrations safely."

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