Don't Let Go
22 September 2022
South Ribble Borough Council is encouraging residents to do the right thing and leading by example by banning balloons and sky lanterns on council land and events.
Pupils and teachers from Northbrook Primary Academy attended the council meeting on 21 September to deliver a notice of motion encouraging councillors to back the 'Don't Let Go' campaign which aims to stop harm to wildlife and reduce litter. Councillors supported and approved the motion.
Deputy Leader of South Ribble Borough Council, Councillor Mick Titherington said: "We recognise the harmful impact that balloons and sky lanterns can have on our environment and we want to encourage residents to do the right thing, so to lead by example we have now banned the use, sale, distribution and mass release of balloons and sky lanterns on all council owned, operated and controlled land. In addition, we've also banned them at all council run events. We hope residents will also consider doing this and look for alternatives when they hold events at home, such as decorating flags or banners or planting a tree in memory of a loved one.
"Although the Don't Let Go campaign, created by the Marine Conservation Society, is aimed at protecting our vulnerable marine species and reducing littering on beaches, which is really important, sky lanterns and balloons can end up anywhere once released, potentially causing harm to wildlife, livestock, woodland and agricultural land and more.
"This is another important milestone in our action plan to improve the environment, as we work towards becoming carbon neutral by 2030, so thank you to Northbrook Primary Academy for highlighting this issue at our council meeting. We all need to do our bit to protect the environment and they've certainly played a big part in this."
Although balloons and sky lanterns released into the sky can look impressive, when they come back down the effects on animals and the environment can be hazardous, even fatal.
Sky lanterns, made from paper-covered wire or a bamboo frame with a candle inside, lift into the air where they can float for miles, not only causing a fire hazard, but potentially destroying habitats when they come back down to land.
Deflated balloons or balloon fragments left on the ground or floating in water can easily be eaten by different animals, and their strings can cause entanglement.
In addition, materials used to produce these items are often not biodegradable, meaning the problem lasts for long time. Even biodegradable balloons can take up to 4 years to decompose in some environments.
Christine Adams, Executive Headteacher, Northbrook Primary Academy said: "We are so proud of our children at Northbrook and the difference they are trying to make in our world. They have done so much reading and research about the changes that can be made to help our environment and they are now being proactive in changing not only the things they do in their own lives but influencing others to change. They have produced adverts to persuade others not to use plastic straws because of their effect on the environment, sponsored a polar bear, planted green planet flower bombs, and are developing ideas about planting a wildflower meadow in school.
"Through their research they found out about 'Don't Let Go' which asks local councils to ban the release of balloons and lanterns at their events and they decided to use their excellent persuasion skills to write to South Ribble Borough Council to persuade them to adopt this motion and make a difference here in our local area. They won't stop here...they are already planning to take this motion to other groups to persuade them of the difference they can make."
Other work to help fight climate change being delivered in the Borough, by South Ribble Borough Council, includes a range of biodiversity and tree planting projects, electric vehicle charging infrastructure improvements, working towards eliminating single use plastics, and much more. Find out more here: https://southribble.gov.uk/ClimateChangeEmergency.
More information on the Don't Let Go campaign is available here: https://www.mcsuk.org/what-you-can-do/ocean-friendly-living/reducing-your-plastic-footprint/dontletgo/