The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has raised their concerns over an initiative to celebrate the work of the NHS during the COVID-19 crisis.
The public was urged to light lanterns and set them free into the sky in order to raise awareness and funds for the British health system.
The NFU has stated that, although this is a commendable idea, it poses a serious risk of fire and endangers animals that may come in contact with the naked flame or eat the debris. At present, more than 120 councils have banned sky lanterns across the UK, recognising the danger they pose.
An NFU spokesperson said: “The NFU has campaigned against their use as we have heard from dozens of farmers over many years about the gruesome injuries sky lanterns have caused to their livestock and other animals, as well as devastating fire damage on-farm to hay, straw and farm buildings. They also land as unnecessary litter wherever they fall.”
“We would also ask people to think about the heightened and unnecessary strain this will cause our already stretched emergency services who need to focus on the national response to the coronavirus outbreak.”
“We would encourage anyone that does wish to support our invaluable NHS to do so through established charitable routes,” the statement concluded.
Ulster Farmers’ Union
The Ulster Farmers’ Union has echoed these concerns over sky lanterns, with deputy president Victor Chesttnut saying this new initiative causes great concern to farming and rural communities. This statement follows the recent news of a well-known pedigree stockbull being killed by a Chinese lantern.
“The burnt-out remains from the lanterns often fall into farmers’ fields, littering them and potentially hurting livestock. Not only are sky lanterns damaging to the environment there is the possibility that livestock will eat the metal wireframes which will then pierce their internal organs and cause life-threatening injuries.”
This lantern initiative also coincides with a status orange fire-risk warning. Chesttnut concluded by saying anyone who wishes to still take part should do so with this warning in mind.
“It is vital that anyone who is taking part in this initiative lights their lantern away from trees, hedges, heather, gorse and wildlife, and has experience of launching a lantern into the air.”