23 Mar 2017 - Balloon releases should be banned because they can entangle and choke wildlife to death, the Marine Conservation Society has said.
The society said it had found 53 per cent more balloon-related litter on beaches last year compared to 2015.
So far 50 local councils have agreed to prevent the release of balloons and sky lanterns on their land and the MCS urged others to do the same.
Emma Cunningham, an MCS pollution campaigns officer, said: “There’s an awful lot of confusion over balloons, especially what they’re made of and how they break down.
“Some people believe that because latex is natural, balloons made of it are harmless once let go.
“This just isn’t the case. Latex may last for up to four years in the marine environment. The latest research also shows that only around 13 per cent of balloons burst into small pieces whilst more than 80 per cent come down intact.
“This could explain the rise in balloon litter levels we have seen on beaches, which will have a great impact on wildlife.”
The plight of a three-year-old horse that died after choking on a balloon string was featured on BBC Breakfast.
The MCS asked people to help persuade councils by signing a pledge to support a local ban.
There are already bans on balloon releases in place in New South Wales and Queensland in Australia and Florida, Virginia, Connecticut, Tennessee, Texas and California in the US.
The Local Government Association issued a broadly supportive statement.
Martin Tett, the LGA’s environment spokesman, said: “The potential for sky lanterns to endanger people’s safety, their property and their livelihoods is considerable, and it is understandable why so many councils and other organisations have already banned their use as far as they are able.
“People should also be mindful of the potential impact on wildlife and litter from normal balloons.
“Councils, who have experienced substantial budget reductions, spend many millions every year tackling litter.”