UP up and not away anymore

MASS balloon launches have been banned across Suffolk - thanks to The Evening Star.

By PAUL GEATER environment editor

Paul.geater@eveningstar.co.uk>

MASS balloon launches have been banned across Suffolk - thanks to The Evening Star.

Both Suffolk County Council and the borough in Ipswich have banned mass balloon launches from their property, and will discourage other organisations from using this method of publicity.

And the borough's leisure spokeswoman, Judy Terry, who works in the marketing industry, said she would be advising her clients against using balloon launches after reading about the environmental damage they can cause.

The Star drew attention to the concerns of the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) which is worried that latex balloons is often eaten by marine creatures, including turtles, dolphins, porpoises and seabirds, and can get stuck in their digestive system and lead to a slow death.

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Mrs Terry said: “This wasn't an issue we had considered, but once you mentioned it, I looked at the information and at the MCs campaign and spoke to my colleagues and felt this was the right course of action.”

The ban does not affect balloons at children's parties, weddings, or any balloon that people hold on to - only those which are deliberately released into the air.

A county council spokeswoman said that with Suffolk aiming to become Britain's greenest county, it was right to discourage balloon launches which could damage the environment.

The MCS has launched the Don't Let Go campaign to try to persuade people not to hold balloon launches.

Spokeswoman Gill Bell was delighted by the result of the original article: “I'm thrilled to hear about the council's decisions.

“It is very important to prevent this kind of pollution and it is good to get this kind of backing. I'm delighted the publicity has generated this response.”

The National Balloon Association represents manufacturers and says there is no evidence that balloons properly released cause any environmental damage.

A spokeswoman told the Star: “Latex balloons are made from 100 per cent pure latex and biodegrade at the same rate as an oak leaf.

“There is no evidence to prove that a latex balloon has caused the death of any sea animal, in fact there have been tests to prove that a piece of a broken latex balloon ingested by a turtle will in fact pass through the animal in the normal manner causing no harm whatsoever.”

Is it right to ban balloon launches? Write to: Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Turn to Paul Geater's column on page 10 to find out why he thinks its right to ban balloon launches.

A juvenile green turtle washed up at Knott End-on-Sea beach near Blackpool starved to death in December 2001 after a balloon blocked its gut. Source MCS.

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