RSPCA Cymru has welcomed the unanimous backing given by Councillors in Rhondda Cynon Taf to a ban on the use of sky lanterns on Local Authority land.
Councillors voted in favour of the action at a full council meeting on Wednesday evening (June 24th), and also urged the Welsh Government to implement legislation restricting the use and sale of sky lanterns across Wales.
The Notice of Motion debated by RCT Councillors showed clear support for RSPCA Cymru’s long-standing campaign on the issue, which saw supporters of a ban across South Wales send messages of encouragement to the Council ahead of the vote. The move means that 11 of Wales’ 22 Local Authorities have acted on sky lantern releases – half of all Councils.
RSPCA Cymru has long highlighted the dangers associated with the use of sky lanterns.
Sky lanterns – also known as Chinese lanterns – can harm wildlife, livestock and other animals by causing injuries that lead to suffering and a slow painful death. RSPCA Cymru strongly advises against their use and recommends that harmless alternatives are sought to prevent injury, suffering and fatality of animals.
Speaking outside the Council chamber after the vote, RSPCA Cymru’s public affairs manager, Chris O’Brien, said: “Sky lanterns pose potential threat and harm to animals in numerous ways.
“We’re delighted RCT Council has taken this important step for local animal welfare. They’ve delivered a powerful statement to their local community and beyond by implementing this voluntary ban.
“RSPCA Cymru has worked closely with Rhondda Cynon Taf Council on the issue and held productive discussions with Council leader Cllr Andrew Morgan and Cabinet Member Cllr Ann Crimmings.
“Councillors in RCT also unanimously called upon the Welsh Government to legislate on this issue. RSPCA Cymru believes a Wales-wide ban is the most effective means to end the threat posed to wildlife, livestock and other animals by these devices.”
County Borough Councillor Andrew Morgan, Leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council said: “The Council has received strong representation from residents to decisively deal with the dangers Sky Lanterns can pose.
“The RSPCA has long highlighted the dangers associated with the use of Sky Lanterns and the Council supports their call upon the Welsh Government to implement an outright ban on their use across Wales.
“Our decision to ban their use on Local Authority land will reduce the risk of fire, harm to animals and damage to our local environment; only an outright ban delivered through legislation can deliver the necessary protection for wildlife and our countryside we as a Council and the RSPCA want to see.”
Speaking following the Council meeting, County Borough Councillor Rhys Lewis, Deputy Mayor of Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council added: “This motion seeks to respond to a very topical issue which a number of local residents have expressed strong feelings on.
“The RSPCA has made clear the potential impact that Sky Lanterns can have on habitats and animals and also on our communities through the risk they pose as a fire hazard.
“By supporting this motion, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council has made clear its full support for an outright ban on Sky Lanterns across the County Borough. The news that the Cabinet are set to implemented a ban on the Sky Lanterns on all Council property and at Council events is welcome news.
“Many local authorities in Wales have already taken the same proactive steps but it is vital that the Welsh Government now set in place legislation to implement an outright ban on the use of Sky Lanterns across Wales.
“The fire service also support a ban after a number of serious fires in recent years have been linked to sky lanterns that were set off but then came down further away and starting fires on the ground”
In October 2013 the Welsh Government wrote to Local Authorities encouraging them to introduce a voluntary ban.
Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council follows Vale of Glamorgan, Bridgend, Blaenau Gwent, Gwynedd, Cardiff, Caerphilly, Carmarthenshire, Conwy, Neath Port Talbot and Pembrokeshire, who have already introduced a ban on the use of sky lanterns on public land. Click here to find out if yours, and neighbouring Councils, have taken this important step for animal welfare.
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