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7 July 2010, 11:54
Visitors to the New Forest are being warned about the dangers of flying Chinese lanterns.
It's because of worries they may cause fires when they land and there's also concerns the wire used in them could injure ponies or livestock.
Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, The Forestry Commission, and the National Farmers Union (NFU) have already warned over the risks from flying lanterns. Now the New Forest Equestrian Association (NFEA) and the Commoners Defence Association (CDA) are adding their voices to call for people to be particularly alert to the dangers in the New Forest.
Flying lanterns are usually made of paper stretched over a wire frame, similar to a spherical paper lampshade. They contain a wax candle that enables the lantern to fly for up to 20 minutes.
Fiona Macdonald, Chairman of the NFEA said: “The risks within the New Forest area are particularly high, because there are so many typical smallholdings, with hay barns and timber and thatch outbuildings, close to New Forest towns and villages.”
Graham Ferris from the CDA added: “The wire remains of these lanterns are now turning up on the open Forest. This puts commoners’ livestock at serious risk, needlessly adding to the risks that they already face.”
It is these risks, and the fact that lanterns have already killed livestock elsewhere, that led the NFU to call recently for a complete ban on flying lanterns, and the Forestry Commission to raise a local alert.
A spokesperson from the Forestry Commission said; “Chinese-style flying lanterns are obviously very attractive and becoming ever popular. However, the risk to heathland habitats in an area like the New Forest is extremely high as they can land or catch on something while still burning. The current extreme dry weather accentuates this risk.”
As a result of these fears they have asked local tourism businesses to alert their visitors to the dangers.