Councils Applauded for Banning Sky Lanterns

Union calls for action from 20 other local councils to follow suit

Two further Scottish councils have now confirmed a ban on sky lanterns and helium balloons, following calls from NFU Scotland.

At the end of October, the Union wrote to the 24 local authorities in Scotland which had yet to put a ban in place.  It called for councillors to consider the untold damage sky lanterns can cause.

And since then, NFU Scotland has received a response from councillors from nine local authorities – two of which, Inverclyde Council and Fife Council, have now put a ban in place.  Edinburgh City Council is expected to discuss motions put forward by two of its councillors today (Thursday 15 December); whilst West Lothian Council is putting together a policy to go to Full Council in the New Year.

These councils join eight other Scottish local authorities - Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire, Angus, Falkirk, Highland, Perth and Kinross and Shetland Islands, Orkney Islands - which have already banned the release of sky lanterns and/or helium balloons.

The lanterns, which are constructed from paper with a wire or wooden frame and contain a lighted candle, are a proven fire risk and can be a danger to animals. They pose a fire hazard to standing crops, stacks of hay and straw, woodland and farm buildings.  If they land within crops grown to feed livestock, the frames risk being ingested causing great harm to livestock.

However, there are still 20 councils in Scotland which have yet to take appropriate action, and the Union is urging them to get on board and follow suit in putting in place a ban to protect our countryside.

NFU Scotland President Allan Bowie, commented: “We welcome the bans that have been put in place by Inverclyde Council and Fife Council in recent weeks and thank the councillors for taking this forward following our correspondence.

“However, there is still a lot of work to do yet, as 20 other authorities have yet to consider to do so. Sky lanterns are seemingly innocent devices, and are beautiful to look at, but they can cause untold damage as there is no control over where these burning structures of paper, metal and wood decide to land.

“Across the UK, there have been many reports now of fires started by lanterns and harm to the health of livestock when lanterns have landed in farmers’ fields and been eaten. There is a further risk to stock when grass is cut and ensiled for winter feed, and the wire is chopped up and subsequently contained in hay or silage.

“We applaud the action already taken against sky lanterns by the 12 Scottish local authorities in Scotland and we urge other councils to take their responsibilities as seriously. We also ask members of the public to avoid the use of lanterns, and to understand the risks that these can pose and call on the councils who haven’t put bans in place to consider doing so.”

  • If their council has yet to put a ban in place, NFU Scotland members are encouraged to contact their local councillors to call for a ban on the use of sky lanterns. A template letter calling for action can be obtained by emailing


Contact Ruth McClean on 0131 472 4108

Date Published:

News Article No.: 275/16

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