A US firm which organises a travelling Chinese lantern-inspired ‘Light Fest’ has come a cropper after farmers organised strong local opposition to an event planned in south-west Scotland.
Hundreds of flame-filled lanterns had been due to be launched from the Springkell Estate near Lockerbie on August 11 – but the festival was halted after farmers complained about the fire risk.
Organisers from the company Viive Events – which has experienced similar problems in Canada – have reportedly backed down after local farmers, supported by the National Farmers Union (Scotland), mounted a concerted effort to stop the event from going ahead.
NFUS policy manager Penny Middleton said it was a “common-sense decision”, adding: “Chinese lanterns can cause untold damage as there is no control over where these burning structures of paper, metal and wood decide to land.
“That means they present an unacceptable risk to animal health, property and farmland at any time of year.”
NFUS reports that 17 local authorities across Scotland – as well as Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park – have now put a ban on Chinese lanterns being used for events. The lanterns are also proscribed on all public land in Wales and more than 50 councils in England, out of a total of 353, have outlawed them, according to data collated by the NFU.
NFUS said the fact that the timing of the event coincided with harvest time aggravated the potential risk and lanterns have been shown to start fires.
Teresa Dougall, NFUS regional manager for Dumfries and Galloway, said the decision would be a “great relief” to farmers.
The union has been campaigning for an outright ban on the lanterns for several years.