Plea to abandon release of sky lanterns

NFU Mutual is calling for planned releases of sky lanterns to be abandoned.

The leading rural insurer is concerned that plans for a mass release of sky lanterns ‘in support of the NHS’ could start grassland or property fires in current dry conditions.

It is also warning the public that debris from burnt-out lanterns can kill grazing sheep and cattle.

Rebecca Davidson, Rural Affairs Specialist at NFU Mutual said: “We owe the NHS a huge debt of gratitude and understand people want to show their support. We are urging the public to show their support in other ways as none of us wants to put additional pressure on emergency services.

“Sky lanterns present a fire risk in both urban and rural areas. Debris from burnt out lanterns can also injure and even kill grazing farm animals if they eat it.

“The countryside is extremely dry after three weeks without rainfall in many areas and sky lanterns released now could start grassland and moorland fires as well as putting homes and commercial premises at risk.

“Fires caused by sky lanterns are entirely preventable, and at a time when fire service crews are needed as an essential part of the coronavirus emergency response – so we are urging the public not to buy or use sky lanterns but to continue showing their support for the NHS in other ways.”

NFU Mutual claims statistics reveal the cost of farm fires totalled £46.4m in 2018.