Letting these lanterns off on special occasions has become fashionable and, unlike in many other countries, the lanterns are legal in the UK. They are made of lightweight wire so can fly high into the sky; the debris lands somewhere, usually in farmers' fields.
The lightweight metal wire structures are hazardous to cattle, sheep and horses if they eat them. The wires also can lie undetected on the land and become embedded in hay straw and silage. This presents a further potential hazard when it is fed to the animals in the winter. Fire officers have also warned that if the metal frames land on haystacks or barns filled with winter forage, then there is a potential fire hazard.
This danger is causing havoc to the farming communities, particularly those on the urban fringe. The WFU wants Chinese lanterns banned ahead of the hay, silage and straw harvests.
Helen Bower, national president of the Women's Food and Farming Union