ELECTED members of a council serving one of the country’s most rural areas have declared war on sky lanterns and helium balloons to cut unnecessary wildlife and farm animals suffering injuries or dying.

North Yorkshire County councillors unanimously voted to ban the releasing of the popular wedding and special event items on any property and land which the authority has any interest in or control over.

The action came as The English National Farmers Union and The British Horse Society renewed their calls for a national ban on sky lanterns ahead of celebrations for the Chinese New Year.

Currently there is no national legislation which specifically regulates sky lanterns.

Despite the dangers, around 200,000 sky lanterns continue to be sold every year with thousands potentially being lit and released to mark Chinese New Year.

A full meeting of the council saw it agree to encouraging businesses, communities, landowners, schools, residential homes and individuals to switch to alternative ways of celebrating and commemorating events.

It follows the authority investigating the most effective way to deter sky lanterns use. An inquiry heard farmers relate how their livestock had suffered agonising deaths after ingesting parts of the small paper hot air balloons.

Councillors were also told how could seriously damage efforts to tackle climate change.

North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service chief fire officer Andrew Brodie said while the National Fire Chiefs Council was opposed to the use of sky lanterns due to evidence of them causing significant fires and damaging wildlife, in North Yorkshire they could also devastate ecosystems that lock up massive amounts of carbon.

As part of the crackdown, councillors agreed to promote the restriction of the release of all types of helium-filled balloon and sky lantern on property and land owned by the council. The ban includes lanterns that are made from bamboo or claim to be biodegradable.

The council will also ask all parish and town councils in North Yorkshire to pass a similar motion, and incorporate the ban into all future residential tenancy and land lease agreements.

The councillors also agreed to work with the county’s MPs to ensure that the issue is considered by Parliament.

Stokesley councillor Bryn Griffith, who helped push the crackdown forward, said the council’s action should have a great impact on limiting potential injuries.

After the meeting, Thirsk and Malton MP Kevin Hollinrake said there was sympathy within ministerial ranks for moves to tackle sky lanterns and helium balloons due to the devastation they could cause and he would welcome action.

He said: “I think it would be a simple thing to legislate for.”