To: The Rt Hon Theresa May, MP
The Prime Minister
10 Downing Street
Dear Prime Minister,
Re: Sky Lanterns (Prohibition) Bill 2017-19
I am the owner of a UK registered trademark of sky lanterns Night Sky Lanterns®.
Further to the comments made by Ruth George, MP, when she called for a bill to make the use of sky lanterns an offence, a bill that was passed on 5th April 2019, I write to correct some of the mistaken attitudes shown towards sky lanterns in the bill.
I am concerned that people have misunderstood how sky lanterns should be used and more importantly, how they are constructed.
A good quality sky lantern does not contain any wires, instead they use biodegradable components such as bamboo and fibreglass strings. The quality of the paper is also important.
The technology of sky lanterns has improved tremendously over the years and even fuel cells can now be made of biodegradable fabric, so all in all, this should go some way to alleviating any doubts and fears associated with any alleged dangers that sky lanterns may pose to either wildlife, or farm animals.
A sky lantern of itself is not dangerous even though a lit flame is involved. Cigarettes, matches, fireworks, candles are not a fire hazard in themselves, but a negligently discarded cigarette butt can start a forest fire, or indeed a disposable BBQ, with dreadful consequences as was witnessed over the Easter break.
Quality sky lanterns today, however, such as Night Sky Lanterns®, are fully biodegradable and compostable. They can be safely disposed of either in a compost heap or a recycling bin.
My fear is that substandard sky lanterns which can be found on both Amazon and E-bay create unnecessary difficulties for responsible suppliers especially with "fake news" stories on the internet creating a wave of hysteria towards sky lanterns and the alleged damage they cause, when this is just not the case. I worry that in her address to Parliament, Ruth George, MP may have been swayed by some of the disinformation and wild accusations found on the internet and thrust upon sky lanterns, when she referred to “sky lanterns having caused significant fires in recent years, …” .
I would like to take this opportunity to bring to your attention the Code of Practice issued in 2014 (attached to this letter) by the Trading Standards Institute, where they set out the standards and practices that would ensure the safeguarding of wildlife and livestock, and which concludes that
“When used as intended in appropriate conditions and in small numbers, sky lanterns do not constitute a high risk. With a little care and consideration they can be enjoyed safely”.
Furthermore, the ADAS reports of 2013 and 2014 which were prepared for DEFRA, point out clearly how to use sky lanterns safely either as an individual or as part of a sky lantern show.
For many years now I have tried to put across my case for the safe use of sky lanterns and have tried, without success to engage with campaigners, MPs, the RSPCA and the NFU. Unless we are all willing to talk and take on board how sky lanterns have improved over the years and how they do not pose an ecological threat to flora and fauna, the mistaken attitudes towards sky lanterns will persist.
I fully understand and support the organisations named above, however their campaigns should be updated to include the most recent information about sky lanterns and should acknowledge that a code of practice for sky lanterns is already in use.
Equally important is the problem of the many badly made and environmentally unfriendly sky lanterns still available on Amazon and E-bay, many of which contain asbestos, and all responsible sky lantern suppliers would be grateful if these products were removed from the UK market place. We are all aware that there are many products, both fake and dangerous, that are available for sale in the UK, such as counterfeit branded goods, like Lego, Hoover, I-Phones to name but a few, and which threaten and damage the reputation of businesses and in the case of cheap and shoddy sky lanterns can threaten the very livelihood, of small businesses in the UK. Counterfeit goods, as we know, also pose a threat to the safety of the users and those around them. We can all recall stories in the news about the exploding vapes and the fires and explosions, they caused.
All sky lantern supporters, appeal to you to reconsider the implementation of any complex regulations for something so simple, gentle and eco-friendly as premium sky lanterns, such as Night Sky Lanterns®.
Instead, I would urge that all local and municipal councils are made aware of the Trading Standards Institute Code of Practice, and ensure that those people wishing to use sky lanterns either personally or as part of a sky lantern show, adhere and comply to the code of practice to ensure that sky lanterns are used safely at all times.
I have also included a list of sky lanterns supporters which is published on a link (at the bottom of this letter) and I hope that you too will join this list.
My blog, www.nightskylanterns.co.uk, also contains additional information about sky lanterns and beautiful photos of events which I have personally organised.
I hope to be able to show you that premium sky lanterns are easy to use and as beautiful as they look.
For events with a large number of participants, having first obtained the Civil Aviation Authority's approval, we use drones not only to monitor the sky lanterns but also to locate the landing places, usually a few miles from the launching point, so that we can collect them and that way ensure that they are disposed of either by recycling or composting them.
As with anything in life, sky lanterns should be used responsibly and safely. If the suggestions of the ADAS reports and the Code of Practice from the Trading Standards Institute are followed, sky lanterns are a safe, ecological and beautiful addition to any party, or gathering.
Simply Fabs Ltd
The Rt Hon Michael Gove, MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs - UK Parliament
Ruth George MP - UK Parliament
Kerry McCarthy MP - UK Parliament
Sir David Amess MP - UK Parliament
Sir Peter Bottomley MP - UK Parliament
Jim Fitzpatrick MP - UK Parliament
The Rt Hon Sir Mike Penning MP
The Rt Hon John Spellar MP - UK Parliament
The Rt Hon Richard Benyon MP - UK Parliament
The Rt Hon Sir Patrick McLoughlin MP - UK Parliament
Julian Sturdy MP - UK Parliament
Antoinette Sandbach MP - UK Parliament
Angela Smith MP - UK Parliament
Stephen Hammond MP - UK Parliament
Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London
Sir James Bevan, KCMG, Chief Executive of the Environment Agency
Leon Livermore, Chief Executive of Trading Standard Institute
Yasemin Volders, Marketing Project Manager at the European Travel Commission
Anabel Hoult, CEO, Which?
Andrew John Reading, Consumers' Association
European Commission - Small Business Act
European Commission - European standards
BBC One – Watchdog
BBC Two - Victoria Derbyshire
ITV News Central
Mr Jeff Bezos - CEO of Amazon
Mr Devin Wenig - CEO of eBay
- Sky Lanterns Prohibition bill: https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2019-03-27/debates/0EAB4869-23CB-4422-9EB1-ABA96E1E4B94/SkyLanterns(Prohibition)
- ADAS report - Sky lanterns and helium balloons: http://randd.defra.gov.uk/Document.aspx?Document=11133_AC0229-DefraWAGReportFinal.pdf
- Trading Standards Institute – Code of Practice 2014: https://www.nightskylanterns.co.uk/files/Sky_lanterns_Industry_Code_of_practice_final_v1_20140108.pdf
- Important information on Sky Lanterns: https://www.nightskylanterns.co.uk/files/sky-lanterns-report-20190403.pdf
- Premium Sky Lanterns - Night Sky Lanterns®: https://www.nightskylanterns.co.uk/10-premium-sky-lanterns-white-eco-friendly.php
- Appeal to stop Councils from banning all sky lanterns: https://www.nightskylanterns.co.uk/blog/?appeal-to-stop-councils-from-banning-all-sky-lanterns