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Public give overwhelming backing for balloon and sky lantern ban across borough

Council asked to accept majority in public consultation which saw highest number of responses ever

A move to ban the release of balloons and sky lanterns from ABC Council-owned lands looks set to be approved.

An eight-week public consultation event which followed an earlier recommendation has now been completed.

And the overwhelming majority are supporting the move.

Armagh I first revealed proposals to ban balloon and sky lantern releases in February of this year.

The practice has long been a concern for farmers, leading environmental campaigners and marine biologists.

There are also concerns that lanterns can be drawn into aircraft engines and can delay take-off and landing.

In addition, lanterns drifting across a night sky are also commonly mistaken by the public and coast guards for marine distress signals.

The report went to the environmental services committee for discussion.

But it was not approved at that time.

We reported in April that the decision was to be handed over to the public and an education programme designed and rolled out to schools and charities who release these items.

Now, armed with more information as earlier requested, the matter is now going back before the committee tonight (Tuesday).

The environment services sitting has been informed that the number responses to the consultation was the highest ever received for any council public consultation to date.

A total of 188 responses were returned. The majority of respondents were in favour of a ban, the responses coming from residents, non-government organisations, charities and and other interested parties.

Among those expressing opinions were Marie Curie, Clean Coasts, Ulster Farmers Union, RSPB, Barnardo’s, PIPS, Ulster Wildlife Trust and KeepNI Tidy.

A total of 172 (91.49%) indicated they would be in favour of a ban on balloon and lantern releases from council run events and 16 (8.51%) were not.

And 90.95% would strongly agree/agree with a ban on balloon and lantern releases from council facilities and parks.

The recommendation going to the environment committee on Tuesday is that, in line with the vast majority of respondents, a ban on the release of balloons and sky lanterns from council property and council run events, is now implemented.

Whatever decision the committee comes to, will then be subject to formal ratification at the monthly meeting later in the month.

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