Is corporate pressure and the desire for inward investment at all costs blinding our government?

For over a year now there have been calls for government action as animals have died an agonising death due to eating Chinese lanterns. 

A few days ago the Farmers Guardian reported that Will Lacey, farming in High Wycombe, lost eight cows after they ate wire components from Chinese lanterns which had landed in his fields – as a post-mortem revealed.

Mr Lacey matched wire found inside his cattle to that of the lantern remnants in his field.  He explained “The wire cuts through their insides and they basically bleed to death. It’s very slow and painful.” 

Though banned in Germany, Malta, Australia, Austria and Spain and banned from flying afar by Finland, which has made it illegal to leave a naked flame unattended, farming minister James Paice said the Government needed ‘more evidence’.

The NFU and WFU have both campaigned for a ban and the Chief Veterinary Officer for Wales, Dr. Christianne Glossop, has warned of dangers posed by Chinese lanterns to livestock and other animals and the risk of fire damage to crops and property. Arable farmers have also raised concerns that the lights have set fire to fields of standing crops or dry hay and straw in summer. 

A survey earlier this year by the Daily Telegraph found that firefighters are called out once a week on average to tackle blazes caused by paper lanterns. In one incident, a family was forced to flee their home in Trowbridge in July, after a Chinese lantern set fire to the roof of their house. 

The BBC website reported several other warnings last year: 
  • A spokesman from Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service which was called to a large fire at an industrial estate in Somerset said a Chinese lantern had fallen on to a tonne of paper and printer cartridges. 
  • The RNLI has reported a large increase in the number of call-outs after the lights from lanterns were mistaken for distress flares.
  • East Midlands and Manchester airports have warned against launching Chinese lanterns beneath its flight paths, claiming they could get sucked into plane engines.
  • The Civil Aviation Authority says the lanterns could potentially be ingested into plane engines and can fall on to airport runways
  • Both the Civil Aviation Authority and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency have raised concerns that the lanterns pose fire and safety risks as well as prompting false rescue alarms.  
PRWeb sees no evidence

Most lanterns are made in China but a Yorkshire manufacturer Harrogate based firm, Night Sky Lanterns, has employed a PR firm to issue a statement. PRWeb, which “will help to put your news at the top of the biggest search engines – like Google, Yahoo and Bing” said: 

“Whilst we always listen to comments made, these statements are, however, unsupported by evidence. “We sell 100’s of 1,000’s of Chinese Lanterns every year and have never had a reported incident of damage, injury or fire caused by the use of one of our Lanterns.”

How much more evidence will the government need?

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It might help if readers signed the petition set up by the Women’s Food and Farming Union http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/banchineselanterns/.

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Posted on March 6, 2012, in Parliamentary failure and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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