A FARMING union is urging people in Scarborough not to use lanterns as part of tomorrow’s Chinese New Year celebrations.
The National Farmers’ Union has asked members of the public not to let off Chinese lanterns as part of their festivities at the beginning of the Year of the Rabbit to avoid damage to livestock and crops.
Spokeswoman Erika Coghlan said: “Chinese New Year is one of the most vibrant and colourful events in the calendar and thousands of people will want to take part. However, we really hope that people will think twice about releasing Chinese lanterns because they can cause cattle deaths and serious fires, as well being a litter nuisance.”
It is not just the NFU which has raised concerns about the dangers posed by Chinese lanterns. Agencies such as the Civil Air Authority, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, several fire services and the Women’s Food And Farming Union have all reported issues with their safety.
In some cases lanterns spotted in the Scarborough area have been mistaken for distress flares – and the false alarms sparked rescue operations involving members of the lifeboat crew and the coastguard.
The Year of the Rabbit will start tomorrow and thousands of events are due to take place up and down the country.
The NFU has received numerous reports of harm to livestock, and in some instances death, caused by cattle ingesting the metal wires contained within some lantern frames.
Lanterns can also be chopped up during silage and hay making leading to ingestion at a later date, while the wire can also get tangled around the animal’s feet or become embedded in its skin.
The NFU is also concerned about the bamboo frame used in the construction of most lanterns, which are very durable and prone to splintering, and continues to monitor potential problems similar to those found with metal wires.