Sky lanterns and balloon releases banned on council land in Milton Keynes

Mourners and charities are among those being banned from releasing sky lanterns and balloons from council-owned land.

Milton Keynes Council cabinet member Martin Gowans took the decision on Tuesday evening, saying there had been strong support for the proposal from the public.

Sky lanterns

Sky lanterns

“We had 80 responses and 72 were in favour of a ban,” said Cllr Gowans at a delegated decisions meeting. He also revealed that a number of people had also asked for a ban on fireworks, and further work will be undertaken to examine the implications of their use.

MK Council now joins The Parks Trust and more than 50 UK councils in banning the release of balloons and sky lanterns on its own land. They are said to pose a fire risk and be a danger to animals, as well as being litter.

Maurice Barnes, the council’s landscape client services manager, in a report, told Cllr Gowans that the council would also discourage all staff and members from supporting sky lantern and mass balloon releases, and encourage others to follow suit.

Sometimes sky lanterns and balloons have been used at large charity fundraising events and to commemorate a person who had died. But there was little sympathy from some of those consulted.

One wrote: “I have actually released both of these in the past to celebrate the passing of a loved one but since then I have learned about the damage they do to wildlife and the environment. Because of this I wholly support a ban.”

Another wrote: “Lanterns are shamefully destructive devices, released selfishly by morons.” and another said: “Balloons do not go to heaven.”

A dog owner wrote of a worrying experience: “Nine years ago when my dog was a puppy he picked up the remains of a balloon and started choking. I had to react fast and put my hand in his mouth and pull it out. And only just this year he picked up the remains of a lantern in my garden and brought it to me. If I go around dumping hazardous litter in public places I expect to be prosecuted, yet these devices are allowed to be released to fall anywhere.”

The ban will not include piloted hot air balloons, or helium balloons used for research purposes. Council officers will, however, keep a watching brief on whether the council should ban waterborne lanterns.