RSPCA Cymru has welcomed the news that Monmouthshire County Council has banned sky lanterns and mass balloon releases on council-owned or managed land.

This latest move brings the number of local authorities in Wales who have banned lantern releases on their land to a total of 13. Sky lanterns – often known as Chinese lanterns – can harm wildlife, livestock and other animals by causing injuries that lead to suffering and a slow painful death. Animals can also eat balloons and choke on them.

RSPCA Cymru has long highlighted the dangers associated with the use of sky lanterns, and promotes the use of harmless alternatives which prevent injury, suffering and fatality of animals.

Lanterns Wales 13RSPCA Cymru’s political campaigns manager, Martin Fidler Jones, said: “RSPCA Cymru is delighted that Monmouthshire County Council has taken this action which delivers an important message about animal welfare.

“We are also pleased to see that the council is also seeking a voluntary prohibition of release of sky lanterns and mass balloons from private venues, for example hotels, whilst conducting their proactive visits and inspections.”

“Sky lanterns may look pretty – but they’re also pretty dangerous. Sadly, many people forget that, if they release a lantern or balloon, they have no control over where it lands, or the damage it can do.

“The fact that the majority of councils have joined our calls sends out a big signal about just how dangerous these things are.”

Councillor Phil Murphy, cabinet member with responsibility for estates said: “The council has taken action today following independent research establishing that the release of sky lanterns and helium balloons poses a significant risk to crops, buildings and moorland as well as being a potential source of harm to livestock and creating litter. I urge other establishments and organisations in the county to follow the council’s lead.”

RSPCA Cymru is now calling on the nine other local authorities to follow the ever-increasing majority of councils that have recognised the danger and brought in a ban.

In October 2013 the Welsh Government wrote to Local Authorities encouraging them to introduce a voluntary ban. Monmouthshire County Council follows 12 other Local Authorities who have banned sky lanterns from their land – these are Ceredigion, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Vale of Glamorgan, Bridgend, Blaenau Gwent, Gwynedd, Cardiff, Caerphilly, Carmarthenshire, Conwy, Neath Port Talbot and Pembrokeshire.

“Newport and Torfaen have yet to introduce a ban – so we are urging them to be a good neighbour to Monmouthshire and take action and deliver an important message to animal welfare,” added Mr Fidler Jones.

“We have been delighted by the public’s response to our campaign to halt lantern use – and the results speak for themselves with over half the total Local Authorities in Wales having taken action.

“But we still need your help. If your council has already brought in a ban you can still urge neighbouring local authorities to do the right thing and to protect animals in the region by visiting our campaign page.”

Please visit http://www.rspca.org.uk/getinvolved/campaign/skylanterns.

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