Happy Lantern-Free Chinese New Year

NFU Scotland has joined farming organisations across the UK in wishing well all those who celebrate the Chinese New Year, which officially begins today (Monday 23 January), but has urged all those taking part to resist the temptation to light ‘sky lanterns’ as part of the festivities.

Chinese or sky lanterns have become increasingly popular in recent years and are released at many celebrations including weddings and large parties.  However, these are made from very fine pieces of paper held in a balloon shape by a thin metal wire or piece of bamboo, which can cause serious harm to livestock if they are ingested or become entangled in them. They also present a risk to dry standing crops, stores of hay and straw, trees and farm buildings if they land whilst still alight.

NFU Scotland would support a ban on the lanterns in the UK.  These are already outlawed in parts of Germany, the whole of Vietnam and, as of last week, Spain.  An electronic petition calling for the UK to ban Chinese lanterns has also been posted on the government’s e-petition website.

NFU Scotland Livestock Policy Manager, Penny Johnston said:

“As the popularity of releasing flying lanterns at parties and other events grows, the problems they can cause for farmers are becoming increasingly apparent.  Across the UK, there have been numerous reports of harm to livestock, and in some instances death, when lanterns have landed in farmers’ fields, and cattle have ingested the metal wires.

“There is a further risk to cattle when grass is cut and ensiled for winter feed, and the wire is chopped up and subsequently contained in hay or silage. The lanterns also pose a fire hazard to dry standing crops, stacks of hay or straw, forestry and farm buildings, not to mention the problem of unsightly litter they cause. 

“In Scotland in the past year, NFUS staff and members have reported finding sky lantern remains on or near farmland in Renfrewshire, Bute, Aberdeenshire, Wigtownshire and near Edinburgh.  While injury to animals or damage to property has yet to be reported, the fear is that this is just a matter of time.”  


  • The following petition has been posted on the Government website
  • It states: “We want the Government to ban Chinese Lanterns which are littering the countryside, dangerous to animals, a fire hazard, and unsafe when let off.”


Contact Wendy Fleming on 0131 472 4020

Date Published:

News Article No.: 07/12

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