Lanterns Leave Deadly Legacy

7 May 2010, 12:36 | Updated: 7 May 2010, 12:46

The craze for setting lighted Chinese lanterns into the skies to celebrate weddings and birthdays is worrying farmers in North Devon.

They are concerned that crops could be set alight and that farm animals could be injured by the wire that's left when the lanterns fall back to earth.

One landowner has already reported finding a field full of wire  frames on her Devon farm.

Sales of the lanterns reached 100,000 last year and  their popularity is growing.

"At this time of the year we are approaching silage and hay making - if the wire frames from these lanterns get into livestock feed it would pose a threat to animals and cause serious injury or death" said Country Landowners Association Regional Surveyor, Charlotte Sealy.

"Chinese lanterns may be romantic and may look very pretty, but people who propose to celebrate their marriage by sending them off into the sky should understand the potential fire and health threat they are releasing.

"We think this is a genuine health and safety issue. Biodegradable frames have been suggested as an alternative to wire - but whatever manufacturers do they cannot eliminate the fire risk," she said.

The CLA are calling for a ban on the lanterns.