Flaming sky lantern event in Lockerbie cancelled over opposition

Sky lanterns, which are usually made of paper and wire, have been shown to harm and can start fires. Pictured: contributed
Sky lanterns, which are usually made of paper and wire, have been shown to harm and can start fires. Pictured: contributed
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A controversial festival at a country estate in Dumfries and Galloway where hundreds of flaming sky lanterns were due to be launched has been cancelled after coming under fire from farmers and environmental activists.

The Light Fest, run by US firm Viive Events, was set to take place at Springkell estate near Lockerbie on 11 August.

But campaigners hit out at organisers, claiming launching lanterns is dangerous and tantamount to mass-dumping of burning litter.

Sky lanterns, which are usually made of paper and wire, have been shown to harm and can start fires.

Scottish farmers reacted with fury, insisting the occasion should be cancelled.

They said the timing of the event was particularly bad since harvest would be under way, with valuable crops standing in fields and stacks of hay and straw all at risk.

The National Farmers Union (NFU) Scotland has been calling for an outright ban on sky lanterns, which they say is a “policy priority”.

So far 18 out Scotland’s 32 councils, including Dumfries and Galloway, have banned sky lanterns at council-owned sites. However, they have no control over private land.

Previous lantern releases have taken place in the grounds of Springkell House, which is run as a luxury venue for weddings and corporate events. But organisers have now announced Light Fest will not go ahead.

NFU Scotland policy manager Penny Middleton said: “While this is a welcome, common-sense decision, it shouldn’t require a campaign to achieve this result.

“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.

“NFU Scotland’s long-standing position is that the release of these seemingly innocent devices should be permanently banned.”

John Robins, of Dumbarton-based anti-cruelty charity Animal Concern Advice Line, added: “I’m extremely angry that both the Scottish and Westminster governments have ignored our call for laws banning the release of sky lanterns, which pollute our environment and pose a lethal risk to wildlife and farm animals.”

Springkell estate owner James Johnson-Ferguson declined to comment.