A COALITION of organisations are calling on the Government to act now to make the use of sky lanterns illegal.

The NFU has written to Environment Minister Rebecca Pow as part of a group of 18 farming, environment, animal and fire organisations to explain how the Government’s approach to sky lanterns is now significantly out of date.

The letter details how in other countries the release of sky lanterns is considered an environmental crime due to the harm they cause animals, habitats and the countryside.

By enacting Section 140 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, the Secretary of State can prohibit or restrict the importation, use, supply or storage of injurious substances or articles, such as sky lanterns.

So far, 152 local councils have already banned the release of sky lanterns on council property but with no national legislation in place, the countryside and farms remain unprotected.

NFU deputy president Stuart Roberts said: “The global community is already recognising the dangers of sky lanterns. Countries like Australia, Brazil and Germany already have national bans, and we must join them.

“This is a simple but incredibly effective and impactful step the Government can take towards a safer, cleaner and greener rural Britain.

"We wouldn’t light a naked flame in our home and walk away, so why would we send one into the air with no idea whose home or habitat it could eventually destroy?”

Tim Bonner, chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, said: “Sky lanterns are a blight on the countryside and incredibly dangerous.

"Once released, there is no way of knowing where they will end up and all too often they end up strewn over fields, causing a major hazard for grazing livestock, not to mention the fire hazard risk they pose. It is high time their use was ended swiftly.”

Paul Hedley, National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) wildfire lead, said the council fully supports a ban.

He said: "Sky lanterns have been proven to start wildfires and property fires, kill or injure livestock, as well as polluting our natural environment. They put unnecessary strain on our critical services. Our advice is simple – don’t use them.”

RSPCA animal welfare expert Dr Mark Kennedy said: “Though sky lanterns might look pretty in the sky, they pose a serious danger to horses, farm animals and wildlife.

“Sadly, many people are unaware of the potentially deadly consequences the release of sky lanterns can have for animals.

"Not only are they a serious fire hazard but the RSPCA has had reports of suffering animals through ingestion, entanglement and entrapment, or simply the sight of a lit lantern in the sky causing terrified animals to bolt and harm themselves.

“We know many people are already aware of the dangers sky lanterns pose to animals and we are pleased to work in coalition with the National Farmers' Union and others to raise awareness within the UK government of our concerns.”