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Council committee backs call to clamp down on balloon releases


By David Hannant, Local Democracy Reporter


A proposed charter calling on organisations to stamp out mass balloon and sky lantern releases has taken a step closer to becoming a reality.

The scheme, which would ask organisations to sign a pledge distancing themselves from the events, was among a range of eco-friendly measures discussed during a Norfolk County Council committee meeting on Friday.

Proposed by a cross-party task group, the charter will now go to full council for approval before it is introduced.

The group was formed following a motion from independent councillor Sandra Squire and has set about bringing in other environmental initiatives at County Hall.

Mrs Squire, who represents the Marshland North division, said: “This has been one of the best examples of cross-party work I have experienced in my time as a councillor and I’m pleased to see us all pulling in the same direction for a single cause.

Sandra Squire has welcomed councillors' support for measures against balloon releases which are potentially harmful to the environment
Sandra Squire has welcomed councillors' support for measures against balloon releases which are potentially harmful to the environment

“I have felt extremely passionate about balloon releases ever since seeing thousands floating in the Atlantic, more than 1,000 miles from land.”

The same task group has also set about considerably reducing the amount of single-use plastics in county council premises.

These measures have included replacing plastic cups with paper ones in drinking facilities, buying supplies in bulk where possible to reduce packaging and encouraging the use of re-usable drinks vessels.

The task group also proposed a separate charter calling on organisations to cut back on single use plastics wherever possible.

A Norfolk County Council committee has backed calls for the authority to promote environmentally friendly stances on issues like single use plastics
A Norfolk County Council committee has backed calls for the authority to promote environmentally friendly stances on issues like single use plastics

Joel Hull, the council officer who prepared the report, said things were moving in the right direction, but the task group’s work was not complete.

Conservative councillor Stuart Clancy said: “I think we can all agree that good progress has been made, but we can all agree it is not a finished article.”

Labour’s Terry Jermy said focus needs to be placed on educating people of the environmental damage balloon releases can do.

He said: “I must confess, in the past I have organised releases using biodegradable balloons, not realising the harm they can cause. Therefore, it’s so important that we spread this message – education is the key.”

The full council will now decide whether to launch the charters.



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