Balloon release could harm West Norfolk’s wildlife

Daine Westwood with collection of balloons picked up from beaches. Call for a ban on balloon releases in West Norfolk. ANL-160525-164813009
Daine Westwood with collection of balloons picked up from beaches. Call for a ban on balloon releases in West Norfolk. ANL-160525-164813009

More needs to be done to raise awareness of the dangers caused to West Norfolk’s wildlife by balloon releases, a campaigner has claimed.

Council officials have said they will look at the possibility of banning the practice on their lands.

But veterinary nurse Diane Westwood has urged the authority to act and says the public need to know just how damaging the items can be.

She regularly collects discarded balloons from beaches around the West Norfolk coast .

And she said: “People aren’t aware of the dangers.”

Mrs Westwood first raised the subject at a West Norfolk Council meeting in April, where she urged the authority to follow the example of other councils across the country and ban the releases.

She said she has seen the effects on animals who have died as a result of ingesting released balloons.

She also highlighted the opposition of groups including the RSPCA, Marine Conservation Society and National Farmers Union to the practice.

David Pope, then cabinet member for public space, acknowledged the importance of the issue, but said he did not know of any requests to stage such a release.

But Mrs Westwood said that, while she was encouraged by the answer she received at the time, the lack of applications to hold a release event would not give a true reflection of how many such events actually take place.

She said: “People don’t apply to do it.

“If the council decides on a ban, they need to publicise the fact and where they’re banning them, because of the dangers to wildlife.”

A West Norfolk Council spokesman said this week: “We will be looking into the matter and it will be the subject of a future cabinet report.”