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Chinese lanterns no longer allowed at Council wedding venues

Date Published: 16 December 2019
Oakham Castle

Rutland County Council is no longer permitting the use of Chinese lanterns at Oakham Castle and other Council-run venues.

Also known as sky lanterns, Chinese lanterns consist of a paper-covered wire or bamboo frame and open flame heat source. When lit, Chinese lanterns lift into the air, where they are intended to remain before extinguishing and falling back down to earth. 

Although small, they can travel several miles from point of release to where the eventually land.

Lanterns are often used to mark ceremonies and special occasions, including weddings. However, they also have potential to cause significant harm to animals and the environment. This can include the death of wildlife and pets caused by ingestion, entanglement and entrapment when the lanterns eventually land. Marine life is also endangered when lanterns fall into rivers and coastal waters. 

Additionally, Chinese lanterns pose a significant fire hazard to private and public property, particularly during the UK’s busy summer wedding season.

“We understand that lanterns can add something special to a celebration. However, many people do not realise the dangers and risks involved when setting the lanterns off into sky.  I would urge Parish Councils, hotels and event organisers to think twice before buying the flying lanterns and releasing them. Unfortunately, all too often, Chinese lanterns land on farmland. Their fine razor-sharp bamboo frames do not biodegrade and can cause immense suffering to animals by puncturing their stomachs. Not only that, if the lanterns are still alight when they land they can destroy crop fields in seconds. Let’s make Rutland lantern free.”
Rutland County Councillor and farmer, Andrew Brown

“The use of Chinese lanterns to mark special occasions, including weddings, has become more common in the UK in recent years. Although it’s still a rare request during weddings held at Oakham Castle, we are mindful of the growing concern that these lanterns represent a danger to wildlife and the environment. Ahead of the influx of wedding bookings that traditionally follows Christmas and New Year, we’re letting people know that we won’t be allowing Chinese lanterns at Council venues in future and would strongly discourage their use at ceremonies elsewhere in the county.”
Councillor Gordon Brown, Cabinet Member for the Environment 

The Council is suggesting a number of alternatives to Chinese lanterns, including static lanterns, stationary candles and outdoor nightlights. 

Due to similar concerns about wildlife and the environment, Rutland County Council will also no longer allow the release of helium balloons from its venues.

To learn more about wildlife risks posed by littering and Chinese lanterns, see advice provided by RSPCA


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