People should think twice about using sky lanterns at celebrations this summer because they are causing problems in the countryside, Agriculture Minister Jim Paice said.
Mr Paice has asked the British Hospitality Association to advise its membership of hotels, restaurants and other venues of the problems and to ask that they discourage customers from using the lanterns.
Releasing sky lanterns is increasingly popular at festivals, weddings and other celebrations across the UK. But after floating for many miles and falling to earth the burnt-out remnants can hurt livestock and litter fields.
Farmers have reported that sheep, cattle and horses are being injured, and in some cases dying, from eating the metal wire frames, which pierce their internal organs. They also report they are being forced to scour fields to pick up the litter.
The Glastonbury festival, which is based on a farm, already has a policy of discouraging the use of sky lanterns and many other music festivals ban them for revellers’ safety.
Mr Paice said: “Anyone who’s seen sky lanterns at night knows how spectacular they are, but they probably don’t know how they can cut a cow’s insides to ribbons and be devastating to the countryside.
“I don’t want to stop people’s enjoyment but I urge everyone to think twice about the impact of a sky lantern after it leaves their hands, and to find another way to celebrate.”