26 July 2017
The Green Party’s councillor for Weymouth West, Claudia Moore, has succeeded in getting the backing of Weymouth and Portland Borough Council (WPBC) to protect wildlife. Her motion at the full council meeting in June asked that WPBC ban the release of helium balloons and sky lanterns from any land or premises in the ownership of the council.
Local conservationists in Dorset brought our attention to the problem of lantern and balloon releases which end up as litter on land or sea and pose a risk to livestock and marine animals which mistake balloons in particular for food. Balloons have been found ingested in endangered turtles, dolphins, whales and seabirds. Livestock have died after eating degraded lanterns, which are accidentally picked up by harvesting machinery and put into winter feeds.
Lanterns also pose a fire risk to crops in the summer months, to thatched roof properties, and are causing a number of false alarm call outs on the coast as people mistake them for distress flares. In April 2016 a sky lantern landed on a Dorset Nature reserve near Wareham starting a major gorse fire.
The call to ban balloon and sky lantern releases nationally is supported by the Marine Conservation Society, RSPCA, RSPB and the National Farmers’ Union.
The motion was seconded by Labour councillor Tia Roos and, despite abstentions from most of the Conservative councillors, the motion was passed successfully.
We hope this will raise awareness of the dangers of these activities and people will find other ways to enjoy themselves and celebrate occasions, and our precious marine wildlife will be protected.
Thumbnail photo credit:
“Cycling Man” https://www.flickr.com/photos/tony709/