Poll: Do you agree with South Tyneside Council that balloon releases should be banned?

Balloon release on The Leas to remember Liam Curry and Chloe Rutherford.
Balloon release on The Leas to remember Liam Curry and Chloe Rutherford.

Council leaders have supported a ban on balloon releases due to the environmental damage they cause.

South Tyneside Council is among 32 local authorities in England which have signed up to ban the releasing of balloons, which is often done as a mark of respect.

Now the Marine Conservation Society is calling on members of the public to encourage other local authorities to follow suit.

The society’s Don’t Let Go campaign is also urging people to ban the release of sky lanterns.

Balloon releases have become increasingly popular nationally, many times for people wanting to show their respects to those who have lost their lives and others for fun at events to see how far they can go.

In South Shields hundreds joined in the release of pink and blue balloons earlier in the year in memory of teenagers Chloe Rutherford and Liam Curry, who were killed in the Manchester Arena bombing.

West Boldon Primary School Julie Parkin memorial balloon release.

West Boldon Primary School Julie Parkin memorial balloon release.

Balloon releases were also held for popular education practitioner and mum-of-two, Lisa Kelly, who collapsed and died in the car park of Bamburgh School in March this year aged just 35.

At West Boldon Primary School children released balloons in memory of teacher Julie Parkin, 39, who was found stabbed to death in her home in June.

And, across the North East and the rest of the country, thousands of balloons have been released in tribute to six-year-old neuroblastoma victim, Bradley Lowery.

However, environmental campaigners are aiming to educate the public about the hazards posed to wildlife.

Balloons and balloon fragments can pose a serious risk to wildlife

South Tyneside Council

They say dolphins, whales, sharks, seabirds and turtles have all been killed by balloons and balloon strings through entanglement or ingestion.

A spokesman for South Tyneside Council said: “Balloons and balloon fragments can pose a serious risk to wildlife, particularly marine animals.

“It is for this reason that we discourage people from releasing balloons, especially along the coastline, although there have been some instances where we have taken a more lenient approach.

“We would encourage people to choose alternative ways of marking occasions which pose less risk of harm to our precious marine life.”

Balloon release at the Stadium of Light in memo of Bradley Lowery.

Balloon release at the Stadium of Light in memo of Bradley Lowery.

Emma Cunningham, pollution campaigns officer at the Marine Conservation Society, 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% of balloons burst into small pieces whilst more than 80% 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.

“Ultimately we’d like to see balloons and lanterns classed as litter under the relevant legislation. Because they are let go, and not directly dropped on the ground they’re not currently classed as litter, yet balloon litter levels have increased on the UK’s beaches since we started recording this litter item back in 1998.

“In 2016 there was a 50% rise in balloon litter compared to 2015. It’s great to hear Durham County Council and South Tyneside Council have balloon bans and we would encourage all other local authorities in the area to follow suit if it isn’t already in the pipeline.”

The society wants other to pledge their support by visiting www.mcsuk.org/campaigns/dont-let-go.