Hertfordshire County Council passes sky lantern ban

A plastic balloon found by Ver Valley Society volunteers around the River Ver in St Albans. Picture:

A plastic balloon found by Ver Valley Society volunteers around the River Ver in St Albans. Picture: Ver Valley Society - Credit: Archant

The release of sky lanterns and balloons is to be banned from all land and buildings owned or controlled by Herts county council.

The move follows an e-petition to the council started by a member of Plastic Free St Albans, which called on the council to 'disallow the release of balloons and sky lanterns on land owned or controlled by the council'.

On Monday a meeting of the council's cabinet agreed to the measure after considering the harm to wildlife, livestock, and the risk of fire when the lanterns and balloons land.

Executive member for resources and performance Cllr Ralph Sangster said the balloons and lanterns posed a "significant threat of harm" to wildlife and livestock, through ingestion, entanglement and entrapment.

He added that it was no longer an acceptable price to pay for the "modest enjoyment" they may provide.

Future council leases will include a 'restraint' to ban the releases, and any licence or agreement to hire land or property would prevent them too.

Deputy executive member for community safety and waste management Cllr Colin Woodward (Bishop's Stortford West) said the recommendation would be welcomed by the community protection directorate and the Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service.

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According to reports, debris from lanterns and balloons is frequently found littered around the county council estate and the wider countryside.

Schools, libraries and register offices will be among the premises covered by the ban.

On Friday, December 13 the plans for the ban were also backed by a meeting of the county council's resources and performance cabinet panel.

At that meeting Conservative Cllr Ken Crofton (Hertford Rural) clarified that hot air balloons will not be affected by the ban.

Liberal Democrat Cllr Paul Zukowskyj (Hatfield South) asked whether it would apply to meteorological balloons or others used for scientific research purposes.

Rural estates manager Matt Roberts confirmed that that was not the intention of the ban.

It was recognised, however, that there may be times when individual balloons may be accidentally released - at children's parties for example.