People in Lichfield and Burntwood are being urged not to celebrate New Year by letting off sky lanterns.
Staffordshire County Council’s animal health team has warned that wire parts from lantern debris can be eaten by farm animals and other wildlife, causing death or injury.
The lanterns are made of paper and consist of a candle or a fuel cell filled with paraffin wax suspended inside a frame of wire or bamboo. When lit, they drift away, landing when the fuel has run out. They can reach up to 3,000ft in height and drift for several miles in the breeze, landing anywhere.
County Councillor Gill Heath, Cabinet member for the environment, said: “The use of sky lanterns is popular around New Year, but many people aren’t aware of the risks they pose to property and the misery they can cause to wildlife and farm animals.
“As well as being harmful to animals, the use of sky lanterns has also been criticised as a potential fire risk. Once released, there is no control of where and when they will land and how long they stay alight for
“They do look pretty, but when the debris lands on flammable material, or is eaten by wildlife and livestock, it can cause real problems.
“There are lanterns with bamboo hoops available which are labelled ‘100% biodegradable’ but even these can still take time to biodegrade. Our animal health team have also seen items labelled as 100% biodegradable which still contain metal parts. These are being inaccurately described, and I would ask people to contact our Trading Standards team if they come across them.”