Friday, January 31, 2014
9:38 AM

Farmers and union leaders have repeated their call for a ban on sky lanterns ahead of Chinese New Year celebrations.

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Lanterns are traditionally released on January 31 as a symbol of good luck. But farmers and key groups including The NFU and Marine Conservation Society (MCS) have urged people to find other ways to celebrate to avoid harming property, livestock and wildlife.

The release of lanterns was blamed for a huge fire at a recycling depot in the west Midlands last year and cattle have died from ingesting the fine wire that can get chopped with grass and end up in silage.

Jonny Fuller, who keeps a herd of 100 longhorns at Spinney Abbey Farm at Wicken, near Newmarket, supports a ban. One of his cows died three weeks after giving birth, after ingesting what is thought to be a sky lantern.

He said: “We had a couple on land we rented. We had a cow push a calf out about six weeks early and then it turned really funny with us. A couple of weeks later she dropped down dead.

“When the knackerman came I said ‘Let me know if you find what killed it’. He phoned up later to say they had found wire.”

The 35-year-old said the impact on small farms could be devastating. He added: “People don’t think about it. They think it’s up in the sky and it’s disappeared forever.”

A spokeswoman for the MCS said balloons and sky lanterns were “dangerous pieces of litter” that are increasingly being mistaken for marine distress flares and posing a threat of entanglement and ingestion.

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