NFU renews call for ban on Chinese lanterns following crop blaze
Aug 12 2010 by Nick Lavigueur, Huddersfield Daily Examiner
FARMERS in Yorkshire have backed a nationwide call for a ban on Chinese lanterns.
They fear the lanterns can cause serious blazes hitting valuable crops if they are released in the countryside.
There is also a risk to livestock as parts of the lanterns can be chewed by cattle or sheep.
Yorkshire officials of the National Farmers Union have backed the boycott call after a lantern caused a severe crop fire in Oxfordshire.
The blaze on July 31 at Stonesfield near Woodstock began after a lantern released for a birthday celebration landed in a barley field before it had burned out.
The tea-light-powered paper and wire lanterns can drift for several miles but can be prone to crashing before their fuel has run out.
More than 25 firefighters were needed to tackle the seven acre blaze, which destroyed thousands of pounds worth of barley.
NFU Yorkshire regional director Richard Ellison said: “We don’t want to be killjoys at all, but with the very dry summer and the reports we are getting of injuries to cattle we would urge party-goers and venues to resist the temptation to release lanterns into the countryside.
“People should also be aware there is a risk of finding themselves liable for damage caused. A fire in a field of barley could cost a farmer thousands of pounds.
“We would urge the public to think about the liabilities they could incur if the lanterns they release end up causing damage”.
Fire brigades across the country have also urged people to exercise caution with Chinese lanterns.
Roger Wood, community, fire and road safety manager in West Sussex, said: “There is growing concern over cases where the embers from the fuel cell can continue to glow for several minutes after the flames have gone out and then fall from the lantern as it flies.”
A spokeswoman for West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue said there had not been any incidents in the region so far, but they had produced a research paper on the threat in response to the problems elsewhere.
Many animals have already been injured or killed after eating parts of lanterns that have landed on farming fields.