Calls to ban balloon and Chinese lantern releases in Hartlepool after fears over animal deaths

A lantern release.
A lantern release.

A consultation is being planned that could see balloon and Chinese lantern releases banned in areas of Hartlepool.

Councillors are set to discuss a proposal from the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) calling for public consultations for a public awareness campaign on all balloon and Chinese/sky lantern releases on all council-owned and managed land.

A report set to be discussed by the council’s Neighbourhood Services Committee tomorrow says: “The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) is campaigning to raise awareness of the negative impact of balloon releases. It is encouraging local authorities to look at the banning of these releases on council owned and managed land, as well as in their authority area.

“Marine animals, including dolphins, porpoises, whales, turtles and seabirds have been killed by balloons or parts of balloons, as they break up/disintegrate. If swallowed, the animal’s stomach can get blocked and this leads to the animal starving. ”

The report states an MCS survey which has shown that there has been a tripling of balloon release litter, found on beaches in the UK, over the last 10 years.

It also says Chinese/sky lanterns can be mistaken for distress flares over water raising false alarms to the Coastguard and RLNI.

A lantern.

A lantern.

The report adds: “At present, 79 Local Authorities in the UK have signed up to support the ban on balloon releases. Hartlepool is looking to become the 4th local authority in the north east of England to consider supporting the Marine Conservation Society by initially conducting public awareness campaign, which would look to lead towards the council adopting a non- release policy on all balloon and chinese/sky lantern releases on all council owned and managed land.

“Public consultation will give interested parties, including relevant charitable organisations the chance to comment on the proposals and implications surrounding this awareness campaign.”

People will also be offered chance to make suggestions on alternative activities instead of releases into the sky including tree planting, ceremonial bonfires including the use of the Hartlepool Beacons, environmental enhancements in areas of land open to public access, and consideration of bubble machines for funerals of children and young people.

The meeting will be held at the Civic Centre tomorrow from 4pm.