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Balloons and sky lanterns must be banned, says environmental group

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Campaigners are urging councils to ban the release of balloons and sky lanterns on their land after volunteers noticed a dramatic increase in litter on beaches, reported Sky News.

The Marine Conservation Society's (MCS) annual Great British Beach Clean found the amount of latex or foil balloons and strings rose by 53% from 2015 to 2016. The debris balloons and sky lanterns can cause long-lasting harm to wildlife on land and in the water as animals can become entangled.

More than 50 local authorities have joined the MCS's 'Don't Let Go' campaign, banning the release of both balloons and sky lanterns on land including parks, sports facilities and schools. The MCS is hoping public support will help persuade further councils to back its drive to see all intentional balloon releases stopped, saying more than 80% remain intact when they fall to the ground.

Emma Cunningham, MCS pollution campaigns officer, said: "There's an awful lot of confusion over balloons, especially what they're made of and how they break down." Some people believe that because latex is natural, balloons made of it are harmless once let go. This just isn't the case. Latex can last for up to four years in a marine environment." There is also a threat to wildlife and livestock from sky lanterns, which can also be a fire hazard to crops or property, while the helium that makes balloons rise is running out and should be conserved, the charity added.

Balloons or lanterns are already banned in some US states and parts of Australia, Germany, Vietnam and Spain.


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