Call to banish balloon litter

Just Regional
Oct 21, 2022 3 mins read

Shocking photos have emerged of balloon litter found this spring and summer along Norfolk’s coastline.

And they have prompted a fresh call from Norfolk County Council, and the North Norfolk Beach Cleaners Collective, for people to choose other ways to mark important events, instead of releasing balloons and sky lanterns.

Balloons were found on half of the beach cleans carried out over the last few months, alongside other litter such as wet wipes, drinks cans, food packaging and fishing gear.

Eric Vardy, cabinet member for environment and waste, said: “These pictures highlight a problem that’s unfortunately still all too common. It’s shocking to see otherwise beautiful areas of our coastline, including the wonderful stretches of coastline in the division I represent, littered in this way. I’d urge people to join the 328 individuals and organisations who have already signed our Balloon and Sky Lantern Charter pledging to stop use of these unnecessary products that litter our countryside and harm wildlife.”

The charter gives people the chance to publicly pledge not to release these harmful products or allow them to be released on their land, and to use environmentally-friendly alternatives such as giant bubbles, banners, streamers or flying kites.

Elizabeth Beston, from the North Norfolk Beach Cleaners Collective, said: “We have recorded nearly 60 balloons or balloon fragments since May on the north Norfolk coast alone, but the real number is likely to be much higher across the whole of the county. I understand how fun, beautiful and poignant balloons can be for different occasions, but with such great alternatives available, it really is time we chose a better way to celebrate or remember loved ones – ways that don’t harm the wildlife that Norfolk is famous for.”

Serious after-effects of balloon and lantern releases can see animals can getting hurt or dying from getting trapped in, or eating, the remains.

Nigel Lloyd, chairman of the Norfolk Waste Partnership, said: “We are fortunate to live in such a beautiful county. It’s saddening to see this kind of litter spoiling coastlines and countryside when sustainable alternatives to mark a special event are readily available. I urge Norfolk residents and our visitors to encourage their neighbours, friends and family to find more sustainable ways to celebrate or commemorate important days.”

The charter builds on the bans that are already in place across many areas of the country, including in Norfolk, where the county council has not allowed the release of helium balloons or sky lanterns on land it owns since 2015.

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