Suffolk naturalist’s balloon and lantern release ban petition taking off

Balloon releases add yet more plastic litter to our countryside and seas endangering wildlife, says naturalist calling for a ban.
Balloon releases add yet more plastic litter to our countryside and seas endangering wildlife, says naturalist calling for a ban.

A petition begun by a Suffolk naturalist to get balloon and sky-lantern releases banned has gained 10,000 signatures in two weeks.

That means the Government must reply to the petition this week but Hawk Honey, who works at Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s Lackford Lakes reserve and lives in Eye, hopes to get the 100,000 signatures required to get the issue discussed in Parliament.

Hawk Honey

Hawk Honey

Hawk decided to start the petition himself after becoming concerned at the impact balloons and lanterns have on wildlife and the environment.

“They’re a nuisance – they’re nothing but litter,” he said. “Balloons cause a lot of problems for seabirds. If the lanterns come down before the flame is extinguished they set light to things.

“Would people be happy if I attached a petrol bomb to a balloon?

“Although there are biodegradable balloons and lanterns, it only takes seconds for wildlife to become entangled in them or consume them.”

Many scientists are becoming concerned about the amount of plastic in our seas.

Hawk points out that currents often make it gather in rafts below which fish shelter, encouraging seabirds to dive beneath the debris and get entangled.

Leatherback turtles, Britian’s largest reptile, often mistake plastic bags and balloons for the jellyfish they eat.

He added: “David Attenborough recently said it was ‘heartbreaking’ to see albatrosses, that have spent ages at sea fishing, return to the nest an regurgitate nothing but plastic for their chicks.

“A lot of these releases are in memory of people but there are much better ways of remembering people – plant a tree, donate to charity.”

Sign the petition by visiting https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/200251 where you can also post links to it on social media.

Hawk hopes big name television naturalists will do that.