A CHARITY balloon race planned for Weymouth has been cancelled following environmental concerns.

Weymouth Lifeboat fundraisers had been planning the sponsored balloon release for May 5 in a bid to raise funds. But environmental campaigners slammed the event saying it could harm marine wildlife and litter the sea.

The RNLI said they themselves were not organising the event and took environmental concerns seriously. They added they were working with the event organisers to find the ‘best way forward.’ It has now been announced the event has been cancelled.

Environmental campaigner and professional marine wildlife photographer Steve Trewhella raised concerns that the event would be ‘legalised littering’ and could pose a risk to marine wildlife.

He said he was pleased the event had been called off, but said he would like to see a blanket ban on balloon and Chinese lantern releases.

He said: “It’s legalised littering and it shouldn’t be allowed under any circumstances.”

The RNLI did a great job, Mr Trewhella said, but there were other ways to raise funds.

He added: “I’m very pleased about it. At the end of the day its loads of balloons that won’t end up in the sea off Dorset.

“It’s a positive thing.”

Event organiser Tony Beeson said they were disappointed the event had been cancelled but they understood the concerns people had.

He added they would now be looking at other ideas for future fundraising events.

A spokesman for the RNLI said they took the concerns raised very seriously and had decided to call off the event.

He said: “After listening to the concerns raised by our supporters and members of the public, the RNLI has decided to cancel the balloon race fundraising event planned in Weymouth on May 5. “We would like to reassure everyone that we take environmental issues seriously and, while we’re always looking for ways to raise money to save lives at sea, we don’t want to do this in a way that harms our environment.

“Our fundraisers in Weymouth will now look at other ideas to raise money for our lifesaving charity.”