With the combines starting to roll across the region’s fields for this year’s harvest, the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) is appealing for the public not to release Chinese lanterns.
The CLA fears that standing crops and straw stacks will be at risk because of an expected upsurge in lantern sales and use fuelled by the holiday and wedding seasons.
A CLA spokesman said: “We don’t want to spoil people’s fun, but people should be aware that these lanterns are serious fire hazards.
“They also endanger the lives of grazing livestock as well as other wildlife, and create unnecessary litter.
“Releasing a naked flame with absolutely no control over where it will land poses a serious threat to rural businesses, wildlife and the environment.
“If one of these flying bonfires were to land in a tinder dry field or on a straw stack then the farmer could be facing a very costly blaze that would not only endanger his business, but potentially human lives too.”
The lanterns also pose a fire hazard to dry standing crops, stacks of hay or straw, forestry and farm buildings, not to mention the problem of unsightly litter they cause.”Ruth McClean, National Farmers Union, Scotland
A report published in 2013 on behalf of Defra that investigated the impact of sky lanterns on livestock and the environment estimated between three and eight million lanterns are sold each year in the UK.
It concluded that ‘the fire risk associated with the use of sky lanterns is significant”.
A spokesperson for Scottish Fire and Rescue said: “Fires can have a devastating effect on local landscapes and pose a serious risk to people and property, including livestock.
“Although sky lanterns are popular once airborne they cannot be controlled and there have been numerous reports across the UK of grass and structural fires attributed to these floating candle kites.
“We regard them as a potential fire hazards. Lanterns have also been confused as distress flares in coastal areas and pose a potential distraction to pilots.
“Although we certainly discourage their use we recognise they are popular and so we would be remiss not to provide advice for those who are determined to use them.
“We would therefore advise anyone who is using lanterns to avoid doing so in prolonged dry or windy conditions or in areas where there are standing crops, and they should also only use biodegradable versions to prevent harm to livestock.”
Ruth McClean, Communications Manager for NFU Scotland commented:“We would ask the public to bear in the mind the impact letting Chinese lanterns off, not just at harvest, but at any time of year, can have on livestock.
“These seemingly innocent devices are beautiful to look at but can cause untold damage as we rarely know where they land. Across the UK, there have been numerous reports of harm to livestock, and in some instances death, when lanterns have landed in farmers’ fields, and cattle have ingested them or have been injured on the metal framework.
“There is a further risk to cattle when grass is cut and ensiled for winter feed, and the wire is chopped up and subsequently contained in hay or silage.