Highland Council urges – DO NOT light sky lanterns for NHS and social care workers

The Highland Council is reinforcing its support for the NHS, social care workers and emergency services by urging people NOT to light sky lanterns in a campaign to show support for NHS workers.

Since 2012, the local authority has opposed the release of balloons and lanterns into the sky at its premises, by its own staff and at events endorsed by the Council.

Leader of The Highland Council, Cllr Margaret Davidson said: “Highland Councillors have been clear for many years on what our stance is regarding the release of lanterns and balloons into our precious environment and we are in total opposition to it.

“We fully agree with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service which asks people to please DO NOT light sky lanterns as they pose a serious fire risk to countryside and property and can cause harm to wildlife.

“And we echo NFU Scotland’s position that sky lanterns can injure or kill farm animals and wildlife, cause industrial sized fires and litter our beautiful countryside.

“Please, show your support in the Highland way – get your bagpipes or instruments out if you play; clap, shout, whistle or bang a spurtle on your porridge pan.

“We all want to show our support for NHS and social care workers who are our friends, neighbours and family, just not with lanterns please.”

Cllr Bill Lobban, Convener of The Highland Council added: “I cannot emphasise enough the danger that sky lanterns pose to our fragile and beautiful environment, to our farmers’ livelihoods and to our emergency services.

“Last year, the Highlands were subjected to a number of wildfires that stretched our Fire services to the absolute limit. We must avoid a repeat of that, especially at this crucial time during COVID-19.

“Our staff have reported watching a family set off sky lanterns at Fort George and then picking up the frames of those spent lanterns from Chanonry Point where the Moray Firth Dolphin colony lives, what further example do you need to understand the impact they have on the environment? Farmers have reported numerous occasions of livestock being killed or injured by these lanterns.

“Lighting sky lanterns poses a significant fire risk to our countryside, property and wildlife, please do not risk placing unnecessary pressure on the emergency services at this time. Just don’t use them!”

The Highland Council’s balloon and lantern release position statement is on its website.

For further information on the Highland Council’s response to COVID-19 please phone the FREE Helpline 0300 303 1362 or visit the council's website.

16 Apr 2020