Council agrees to ban balloon and sky lantern releases

Published Friday, 21st December 2018

Hartlepool Council has agreed to ban the release of balloons and sky lanterns from land it owns and manages following consultation.

The Neighbourhood Services Committee took the decision after hearing that a 14-week online consultation exercise carried out earlier this year showed there was overwhelming support (94.5%) for a non-release policy to be adopted.

The survey was launched amid concern over the environmental impact of such releases.

While some balloons burst, others gradually deflate, leaving behind latex and ribbons. When animals ingest the latex it can block their digestive tracts, effectively starving them to death. In some cases, the animals also become entangled in the balloons and their ribbons, leaving them unable to move or eat.

Sky lanterns can also be mistaken for distress flares over water, resulting in false alarms involving both the Coastguard and the RNLI.

 The committee acknowledged that balloon and lantern releases were a popular means of commemoration and celebration, but stressed that there were a number of less negative alternatives, including tree, shrub or flower planting, flower releases on water, bubble releases, the siting of memorial benches and candlelit vigils.

In agreeing unanimously to a non-release policy, councillors also supported the creation of a Memorial Wood at Summerhill Country Park and also called for a similar site to be identified in the north of the town.

Councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher, Chair of the Neighbourhood Services Committee, said: “I would like to thank everyone, both individuals and groups, who contributed to the consultation exercise.

“I think this is absolutely the right thing to do for the environment and I would urge people to support us by adopting a similar approach to any commemoration/celebration events that they might be planning to hold, particularly over Christmas and New Year.”