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Hartlepool council considers banning balloon and lantern releases

Hartlepool Borough Council is consulting on the use of lanterns and balloon releases on its land.
Hartlepool Borough Council is consulting on the use of lanterns and balloon releases on its land.

A consultation is underway to help decide if large-scale balloon and lantern releases should be banned from council land in Hartlepool.

Hartlepool Borough Council is considering bringing in a policy preventing such releases on all land it owns and manages over concerns about their impact on wildlife and the environment.

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) is campaigning to raise awareness of the negative impact of balloon releases, and is encouraging local councils to look at bans.

So far, 79 local authorities in the UK have signed up to support the ban on balloon releases on their land.

A short questionnaire has gone online after Hartlepool council’s neighbourhood services committee supported a consultation last month.

It features five questions, including asking if people are aware of the environmental impacts of balloon releases, whether they would support a ban, and what other activities they would support in their place.

The survey states: “It has been shown that balloon and sky lantern releases have a negative effect on the environment, and in particular marine wildlife.

“Marine animals, including dolphins, porpoises, whales, turtles and seabirds, have been killed by balloons or parts of balloons as they break up and disintegrate.

“If swallowed, the animal’s stomach can get blocked, and this leads to the animal starving.

“It has also been shown that marine animals can get tangled up in balloon ribbon and string, restricting their movement and the ability to feed.

“All the animals mentioned can be found in the waters off our north east coast.”

It adds that large-scale balloon releases cause litter on beaches and in the countryside.

Bans on sky lanterns are also being considered, as they get mistaken for distress flares by coastguards and lifeguards.

The survey adds: “Hartlepool is looking to become the fourth local authority in the North East to consider supporting the Marine Conservation Society by raising public awareness on the subject and considering a non-release policy on all balloon and sky lantern releases on all council-owned and managed land.”

Alternatives could include planting trees, shrubs and wildflowers.

The survey will remain open all summer and next steps developed in the autumn.

To complete it visit www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/HBC18BallonsSkyLanterns

For more information contact Chris Scaife, countryside access officer on (01429) 523524 or chris.scaife@hartlepool.gov.uk