27 October 2014
Ports of Jersey is warning Islanders of the dangers of sky lanterns to aviation, livestock and the environment, and the nuisance they can cause to the emergency services and the public if released without permission.
Sky lanterns can travel big distances and go high enough to interfere with plane engines, depending on the wind. If they land on the ground still lit, they can cause fires, or animals can panic when they see them, or eat them and harm themselves. In more serious cases, animals can die after eating parts from the burnt out remains of sky lanterns that land on fields, or from small fragments in their food.
Furthermore, concerned Islanders mistake lanterns for distress flares and phone the emergency services. This is avoidable if the the authorities know in advance they're being released.
Ahead of Halloween and bonfire night, Ports of Jersey is reminding event organisers that if they are planning anything which involves the release of sky lanterns, fireworks, searchlights/laser shows and helium-filled balloons, they must get permission first from Jersey Airport, and in some cases, the Channel Islands Director of Civil Aviation. Also, Ports of Jersey is warning that sky lanterns should never be released during airport operating hours.
The manager of air traffic control at Jersey Airport, Les Smallwood, said “We don't want to dampen anyone’s enjoyment of these activities, but we can’t trivialise the potential hazards that sky lanterns can cause to aircraft as well as to the local environment."
Rural economy manager for the Department of the Environment, John Jackson, said “These lanterns look spectacular in the sky but perhaps people aren’t aware of the damage they can do to animals and the surrounding land when they come down in Jersey’s countryside or on our coastline. If you’re thinking of using sky lanterns, we’d really urge you to think about the potential risks – are cattle, sheep, goats or horses nearby? If so, please reconsider.”
Jersey Fire and Rescue Service Station Commander, Richard Liron said that lanterns often drift back to land while still alight and can get tangled in rooftops, fences and trees as they struggle to gain height in some wind conditions. He added “Fires at height are very difficult to deal with effectively in the first instance; because of this, such fires often rapidly develop into serious incidents."
If people are planning any aerial activity, guidance notes and an application form are available online from jerseyairport.com
Applications are processed by Jersey Airport's Air Traffic Services team which also lets other agencies, including Jersey Coastguard, know about planned events.
Anyone who wants more advice on the application process can get in touch with Air Traffic Services by phoning Ports of Jersey on +44 (0) 1534 446000.