Council aims to ban mass releases of balloons and sky lanterns in Hartlepool
Council bosses are planning to ban balloon and sky lantern releases on their land over environment concerns.
Hartlepool Borough Council is being asked to adopt a policy calling for no balloon and sky lantern releases on council owned and managed land.
The move follows a 14 week public consultation to give people the chance to comment on the proposal.
In total 94.5% of respondents stated that they supported a non release policy of balloons and sky lanterns.
Hartlepool MP Mike Hill also backed the ban saying he supported the Marine Conservation Society’s points about the damage and a harmful effects the releases can have on wildlife and the environment.
He said: “The release of balloons and Chinese lanterns are spectacular and used to mark special occasions or events, but as the Marine Conservation Society points out they can do damage and have a harmful effect on wildlife and the environment.
“Balloons and lanterns are not easily biodegradable and you end up with litter, polluted seas and death traps for wildlife.
“Given this it really is good to see the council taking the initiative on this very important matter.”
A Hartlepool Mail online poll when the consultation was launched found 80% of those who voted agreed with the ban.
A report from Tony Hanson, council assistant director for environment and neighbourhood services, warned of the dangers and said the public consultation backs the council plan.
It said: “The results show an overwhelming response in favour of the council adopting a non release policy of balloons and sky lanterns on council owned and managed land.
“It has been shown that balloon releases have a detrimental effect on the environment, particularly marine wildlife.
“Marine animals, including dolphins, porpoises, whales, turtles and seabirds have been killed by balloons or parts of balloons.
“Sky lanterns can be mistaken for distress flares raising false alarms to the coastguard and Royal National Lifeboat Institution.
“This wastes their valuable time and resources, and in bad weather puts the boat crews at risk.”
At present, 77 local authorities in the UK have signed up to support the ban on balloon releases.
The Marine Conservation Society also continues to campaign to raise awareness of the negative impact of the balloon releases.
Mr Hanson warned that continuing to allow the releases could have a ‘negative effect on public perception’ of the council’s approach to protection of the natural environment.
Council bosses have also looked at alternatives to balloon and sky lanterns and have recommended creating a memorial wood at Summerhill to grow memorial trees, shrubs and wildlife.
The neighbourhood services committee are being recommended to approve the proposals at its meeting at the Civic Centre on Monday.
Nic Marko, Local Democracy Reporter
Nic Marko , Local Democracy Reporting Service