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Councillors have voted to ban the release of sky lanterns and helium-filled balloons from any areas owned by Gillingham Town Council.

The council says that both the lanterns and the balloons represent a threat to livestock and property and the environment in general.

Councillor Barry Von Clemens, chairman of the town’s general purposes committee who proposed the ban, said at a meeting on Monday 8 August that it was important for the council set an example to the community.

He also said the council had a duty towards local farmers whose land was often the most affected by the release of the lanterns and balloons.

The lanterns had been known to cause fires and harm livestock, while the balloons could also hurt farm animals and could stay in the environment for many years. The balloons could also land in the sea and cause pollution there, he said.

Not all councillors backed the ban, amid concerns that such a move could be seen as part of a ‘nanny state’ approach and that the council could be accused of being ‘party poopers’.

Councillor Von Clemens said he understood those concerns but added: ‘Sometimes as the council we to have to party poop in order to be responsible not only to our taxpayers but we also have to look to the future with environmental issues.’

The ban will affect only events taking place on council-owned land, not those on private property.

A fuller report will be in the September print issue of Gillingham News.

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