Councils are sending out a ‘clear message’ as a ban on sky lanterns and helium balloons is introduced.

Councillors at Weymouth and Portland Borough Council, West Dorset District Council and North Dorset District Council have now all voted to ban the release of balloons and lanterns from council property and land.

The move, supported by the RSPCA, followed concerns lanterns and balloons can harm animals and cause damage to property.

Sky lanterns consist of a paper-covered wire or bamboo frame with an open-flame heat source inside which lifts the lantern into the air.

The lanterns can float for miles from the point of release and only fall back to the ground when extinguished.

Cllr Ray Nowak, Weymouth and Portland Borough Council’s environment and sustainability spokesman welcomed the move and said it was good news that sky lanterns and balloons have been banned from council property as they can cause ‘serious harm.’

The new rules will apply to all council-owned land and leased premises, and the ban will be reviewed in two years.

Cllr Michael Roake, environment spokesman for North Dorset District Council, said: “I welcome this ban as releasing lit balloons and lanterns can cause a serious hazard to wildlife and livestock.”

He added sometimes people did not realise the trouble balloons and lanterns can cause and urged people not to release them.

A risk that lanterns could cause false callouts to the emergency services was also listed as a reason for the ban as, according to the councils, people sometimes mistake them for flares and contact the coastguard.

West Dorset District Council’s environmental protection and assets spokesman Cllr John Russell, added: “This sends out a clear message that releasing lit lanterns or balloons can cause serious problems, both to property, with the risk of fire, and to animals, who may become entangled in or eat the debris.”

According to the RSPCA, lanterns pose a threat to animals, as they can cause injury, suffering and death through ingestion and entanglement.

The society said when ingested, sharp parts can puncture an animal’s throat or stomach causing internal bleeding.

It added lanterns can cause fires, which destroy habitats and set animal housing, feed and bedding alight as well as endangering marine life when they fall into the sea.

For more information on the RSPCA’s campaign visit