Recycling plant blaze: call for ban on Chinese lanterns

A FIRE BROKE out in a factory in Smethwick, Birmingham, on Sunday 30th June where 100,000 tonnes of plastic recycling bundle material was set alight by a Chinese lantern, prompting calls for a ban.


Approximately firefighters were called out to J&A Young recycling plant to battle the flames, which saw smoke plumes rise 6,000 ft in the air.


The flames were said to have spread quickly after a single lantern – caught on CCTV drifting into the factory – started the blaze, taking 48 hours to fully put out.


MPs have since spoken out about the danger of Chinese lanterns, arguing that they pose a threat to industrial sites and conservation.


Tom Watson, Labour MP for West Bromwich took to Twitter and said the incident “should spell the end of Chinese lanterns. They’re just not safe.”


Meanwhile the National Farmers Union rural surveyor Louise Staples said: “Our members know how dangerous these lanterns can be. They can harm or kill farm animals by ingesting a wire frame in chopped grass and there is the fire risk to standing and stored crops, to buildings and they can cause wild fires on moorland.”


The RSPCA said that animals could swallow or get entangled in the lanterns, causing “injury, suffering, and even death”. A spokesman said: “Most people who release Chinese sky lanterns have no idea of the harmful and even deadly consequences they can have for animals.”


The National Farmers Union and Maritime and Coastguard Agency also oppose their use. The coastguard says their resemblance to distress flares causes false alarms.


The lanterns are already fully banned or limited in Austria, Spain, Germany and Australia.


A DEFRA spokesman said the department was “working across Government” on what more could be done.