Plan for West Norfolk balloon release ban welcomed

Diane Westwood, seen here with some of the balloons she has collected from West Norfolk beaches, has welcomed council plans to ban the practice on its lands

Diane Westwood, seen here with some of the balloons she has collected from West Norfolk beaches, has welcomed council plans to ban the practice on its lands

0
Have your say

A wildlife campaigner has welcomed West Norfolk Council plans to ban the release of balloons and sky lanterns on land it owns.

The proposals are set to be debated at a meeting of the authority’s ruling cabinet next Tuesday, just over two months after officials were urged to act.

And Diane Westwood, who first raised the issue in April, said the council is doing the right thing.

She said: “I’m really pleased. There’s irrefutable evidence that balloon waste can and does harm and kill wildlife.

“Sky lanterns are a fire risk to land and property. It’s a sensible proposal.”

Although any ban would only apply to lands that the borough council owns, officials hope the move will also discourage the practice more widely.

In a report published ahead of the meeting, lead officer Nathan Johnson said: “A prohibition against sky lanterns and mass balloon releases within terms and conditions of hire would reinforce the council’s commitment to the environment and encourage community action to reduce waste going to landfill and littering of the natural and built environment.”

The proposals also include the adoption of a code of conduct for councillors and staff to deter them from supporting the practice.

Anyone found to be in breach of hire conditions would be prevented from hiring council land in the future, the report said.

The proposals follow the imposition of similar measures by other local authorities, most recently the Suffolk Coastal council.

Mrs Westwood, who has collected the remains of balloons and lanterns from sites around West Norfolk’s coast in order to reduce the risk to animals, said: “There’s so many councils, even in East Anglia, that have taken action. I’m pleased it’s even got this far.”

Although several countries, including Spain, Malta and Austria, have already banned the use of sky lanterns, the report said it was unlikely that similar restrictions will be introduced here in the foreseeable future.

Mr Johnson said the authority did have the option of doing nothing.

But he added: “The recommendations enable the council to raise awareness of sky lanterns and mass balloon releases as an avoidable animal welfare, financial and safety issue.”