I am pleased to support my colleague Ruth George MP in calling for a prohibition on the sale of sky lanterns, also known as ‘Chinese lanterns’.
Ruth George drew attention to an enormous blaze that took place in Smethwick in 2016, where over 200 fire fighters were called to put out a fire at a tyre depot. I cannot help but think of the potential impact if one such lantern caused a fire near Bolton, and I know all too well the devastation caused by fires over Winter Hill and Saddleworth Moor.
Livestock and local wildlife have been recorded behaving erratically when spotting sky lanterns overhead, causing poultry to huddle together and suffocate, and other animals to bolt, injuring themselves.
We cannot overlook our friends who live in the countryside, for whom sky lanterns pose a significant threat to their livelihoods, and we cannot forget the damage that such a tragedy can have in urban areas, using the Smethwick fire as an example. Just two weeks ago, a sky lantern that returned to earth still aflame caused $40,000 worth of damage at a brewery in Vermont, New England.
To me, this is a clear case of prohibiting a major fire hazard, preventing our emergency services becoming more stretched, and safeguarding our people and our wildlife.