NFU Scotland has called on emergency services, local authorities and politicians to support a complete ban on Chinese sky lanterns following reports that a mass release of these dangerous items this weekend was being promoted.
With all emergency services focussed on the nation’s response to COVID-19 and Scotland’s wildfire risk set at extreme for most of the country because of the dry weather, the Union views the suggested action as reckless and urges the public to explore other ways to recognise the incredible efforts of frontline health workers.
NFUS has long supported the permanent ban of these proven fire risks, which are constructed from paper with a wire or wooden frame and contain a lighted candle. When sky lanterns fall on farmland, they can have devastating effects on those farm businesses. With much of Scotland tinder-dry, and wildfire risk at its highest possible level, the potential for widespread fire is the greatest risk.
Lanterns are a serious fire risk to farm buildings, which may house hay and straw, or other flammable products. They also pose a threat to animal health if they land on farms as the frame material can get mixed up into feed, such as silage or grain, and be accidently digested by livestock the effects of which can be fatal.
The Union has written to the lantern manufacturer allegedly promoting the mass release. It has also written to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Police Scotland, Scottish Ambulance Service, politicians and local authorities seeking their support on bringing this to a halt.
President Andrew McCornick said
It is unbelievable and totally unacceptable that companies are encouraging the public to demonstrate support for our hardworking frontline services by something that is at a high risk of increasing the burden on them.
The Wildfire Danger Assessment in Scotland for the coming days is extreme; land, buildings and property will also be placed at risk by these items and animal health will be compromised should they land on farms.
This must be stopped, and we call on all those we have written to rally behind a call to have the release of Chinese lanterns banned.
We suggest that they use social media and public statements to urge the general public not to take part in this campaign, but to continue to use safe ways to thank our front-line workers, such clapping, music and colourful rainbows in their windows.
At this critical time, support for those in the frontline is best achieved by following Government advice, staying home, keeping safe, not undertaking any non-essential work or travel and by not engaging in any unnecessary activity that might potentially place any additional burden on our emergency services.