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Balloon and sky lantern ban decision to be handed over to the public

Education programme and posters to be distributed to schools and charities

A decision on whether or not to ban balloon releases and sky lanterns from ABC Council-owned properties will be handed over to the public.

People will be given the chance to have their say with a final decision expected later in the year or early in 2019.

It comes after an earlier recommendation made by Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council officers to implement such a ban was put back when it went before the environment committee.

Councillors decided in February that before such action could be contemplated, an education programme should be designed and rolled out to schools and charities who release these items.

It was further suggested that some form of public consultation would be helpful to better understand public opinion on the release of balloons and sky lanterns.

Now an education programme will be undertaken, with posters displayed at council facilities and sent out to schools and charities – in September and October – to raise awareness of the issues around what officers describe as the “harmful effects of balloon and lantern releases”.

A report to the April environment committee meeting explains: “The poster will detail the dangers and alternatives available. Educational material will be integrated into existing school programmes on litter and the environment and alternatives.

“Officers will contact any identified charities and ask for a discussion about the issue.”

Posters will be designed in June and distributed at the end of the summer or early autumn and will coincide with the public consultation.

The report adds: “It must be stressed that Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council is in no way opposed to any charitable works, many of whom we support directly.

“Our education programme is aimed solely at outdoor balloon and sky lantern releases which unavoidably and regrettably result in littering and environmental damage.”

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