St Albans environmental group start petition to ban balloons on council land

PUBLISHED: 17:10 16 March 2019

Balloons found by Ver Valley Society volunteers in their restoration work around the River Ver in St Albans. Picture: Ver Valley Society

Balloons found by Ver Valley Society volunteers in their restoration work around the River Ver in St Albans. Picture: Ver Valley Society

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An environmental group is urging for balloons to be banned on council land as part of a new campaign.

Balloons found by Ver Valley Society volunteers in their restoration work around the River Ver in St Albans. Picture: Ver Valley SocietyBalloons found by Ver Valley Society volunteers in their restoration work around the River Ver in St Albans. Picture: Ver Valley Society

Plastic Free St Albans has launched a petition asking Herts county council to forbid the use of balloons or sky lanterns on its land as part of a Marine Conservation Society campaign called Don’t Let go.

It has also called on local organisations to stop using the rubber decoration at promotional events, highlighting greener alternatives such as flags or bunting.

Emma Tyers founded the group with members of St Albans and Harpenden Refuse the Straw, Sustainable St Albans, and St Albans Friends of the Earth.

She said: “Many people do not realise the damage caused by balloons and their ribbons, which are often found as river and beach litter, sometimes in the most remote places, where they can be ingested by sea creatures and birds and kill them.

Balloons found by Ver Valley Society volunteers in their restoration work around the River Ver in St Albans. Picture: Ver Valley SocietyBalloons found by Ver Valley Society volunteers in their restoration work around the River Ver in St Albans. Picture: Ver Valley Society

“All released balloons, including those falsely marketed as ‘biodegradable latex’, return to Earth as ugly litter, dangerous to wildlife.”

Different organisations in St Albans have thrown their backing behind the campaign.

Chairman of the Ver Valley Society, John Pritchard, said: “We find balloons among the litter in the River Ver around St Albans nearly every week and they can be deadly for birds and wildlife.

“The society is pleased to support the campaign, it’s an excellent idea and we urge local people who care about their environment to support it.”

Amanda Yorwerth, from St Albans Friends of the Earth, said: “By all means use balloons for parties but please make sure that you hold onto the balloons and dispose of them correctly.

“This campaign is focussed on preventing mass littering events, not spoiling six-year-olds’ birthdays. People get very annoyed about litter on the ground but do not always understand that letting balloons float into the sky is simply another form of littering.”

Plastic Free St Albans, together with Sustainable St Albans, is also hosting a documentary film screening to raise awareness of these issues. Rubber Jellyfish will be shown at 7.30pm on March 28 at Inn on the Park in Verulamium Park. Tickets are £6, or £2 for concessions. Book at tinyurl.com/y3buorqo

Visit www.plasticfreestalbans.org.uk to find out more. The petition is available at tinyurl.com/y47tpog8

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