CHESHIRE West and Chester Council has issued a reminder to residents that sky lanterns should not be used in support of NHS staff and key workers.

This follows a recent online campaign asking people to light one and release it to show their support for the NHS during the current coronavirus pandemic.

Sky lanterns consist of a paper-covered wire or bamboo frame and an open flame heat source which can float in the sky for long distances.

When they land, burning remnants can start fires, endanger lives, destroy property and cause unsightly littering.

Animals can also accidentally eat the remains of a lantern, causing internal bleeding which can result in a slow and painful death.

The recent warm weather and dry ground conditions means that the lanterns present an increased fire risk.

And they have been branded as a ‘menace’ by the council’s cabinet member for environment, highways and strategic transport.

Cllr Karen Shore said: “These lanterns are a menace and cause misery to farmers, their livestock and wildlife.

“I would urge anyone who is planning to release a sky lantern from their own property to please think again.

“They are a beautiful sight in the night sky, but they can have devastating consequences on the environment and animal welfare.

“We can all continue to show our appreciation and admiration for NHS staff and all key workers by applauding them in our streets as we have done previously.”

In October 2016, the council imposed a ban on the organised release of sky lanterns on council owned or controlled land due to the risks they pose to life and property.