People across Leicestershire are being urged not to release Chinese lanterns to prevent rural fires.
The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) has launched an appeal against the use of the lanterns to coincide with the start of the harvest season across farms in the area.
The CLA fears that standing crops and straw stacks will be at risk because of an expected upsurge in lantern sales and use, fuelled by the holiday and wedding seasons.
CLA East regional director Ben Underwood said: “We don’t want to spoil people’s fun, but people should be aware that these lanterns are serious fire hazards.
“They also endanger the lives of grazing livestock as well as other wildlife and create unnecessary litter.
“Releasing a naked flame with absolutely no control over where it will land poses a serious threat to rural businesses, wildlife and the environment.”
He added: “If one of these flying bonfires were to land in a tinder dry field or on a straw stack, then the farmer could be facing a very costly blaze that would not only endanger his business, but potentially human lives too.
“There is also the real threat the remnants of the lantern could be cut up and end up in silage eaten by cattle, which would cause the unfortunate animal to suffer a slow and agonising death.”
A government report published in 2013 estimated that between three and eight million lanterns are sold each year in the UK. It concluded that ‘the fire risk associated with the use of sky lanterns is significant’.
While many local authorities across the region have decided to ban lanterns from being sold or released from their land and property, the government has not yet ordered a ban.
Mr Underwood added: “The CLA continues to push for a total, nationwide ban on the use of lanterns. The campaign has momentum and the CLA will be continuing its work lobbying for a Parliamentary debate in order to have the issue brought back into the national spotlight.”
To report damage or problems caused by sky lanterns, call the CLA on 01638 590429, email firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @CLAEast.