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FAQs - Sky Lanterns

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Does the Peak District National Park support the release of sky lanterns?

The Peak District National Park, along with National Parks England, wishes to see the release of sky lanterns classified as littering and therefore banned. We strongly discourage the use of and release of sky lanterns.

What is the concern with sky lanterns?

There is increasing evidence concerning the use of sky lanterns and their potential impacts on the countryside, both in terms of the health and welfare risks for livestock, unintended impacts on wildlife, and the risk of fires being ignited by lanterns. A recent review of evidence carried out by Defra and the Welsh Government concluded that sky lanterns pose a significant fire risk. Due to the unpredictable nature of sky lantern flight paths, lanterns launched some distance away (even from urban areas) can have significant consequences in the Peak District.

Livestock

The materials contained within sky lanterns (metal wires, wood strips) can be inadvertently eaten by livestock, entering their throat and stomach causing considerable pain, distress and even fatal injuries. As a large farming community, the safeguarding of livestock is crucial to the Peak District National Park.

Wildlife

The indiscriminate nature of where sky lanterns land means that the resulting materials can become lodged in trees and other vegetation, where in turn they can entangle birds and mammals. This can cause injury or restrict movement and therefore feeding. Evidence has been gathered from the RSPCA of fatal impacts on barn owls amongst other species.

Fire

The Peak District National Park contains large and internationally important areas of heather moorland, home to a variety of birds and other wildlife often restricted in range to these habitats. Accidental fires can have a devastating impact on the special wildlife, vegetation and landscape of these areas. National Park Authorities work closely with fire services, landowners and other local partners in their efforts to minimise fire risks and take co-ordinated action to put out fires when they do happen.

In addition, sky lanterns also pose a fire risk to agricultural storage of hay and straw which can be accidentally set alight, with potentially significant implications for the farming community and fire service.

Litter

Discarded sky lanterns create litter, which has both financial implications for its clearance and can affect the special qualities of the Peak District National Park. In a six month period, the Peak District National Park collects around 17 tonnes of litter and rubbish from the sites it manages.

Balloon (including helium balloon) releases

Does the Peak District National Park support balloon releases?

A: The Peak District National Park recognises that members of the public may wish to acknowledge a special event, charity fundraiser or commemorative/in memorium occasion by the release of helium-filled balloons. Whilst we respect the good-natured visual significance these events may have, we ask the public to consider the longer term impact of their use. The Peak District National Park does not support the release of balloons.

What is the concern with helium balloons?

A: Both rubber (latex) and silver (foil) balloons eventually fall back to the ground. This can create litter both from the balloon itself and any associated tags. This in turn creates an indiscriminate wildlife and livestock hazard. Impacts can include entanglement, leading to loss of movement and inability to feed, in some cases with fatal results. Both the RSPCA and MCS have highlighted these impacts in recent studies.

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