The NFU has commented on the Trading Standards Institute's new code of practice for sky lanterns and is calling for total ban. The code offers guidance for those designing, manufacturing, distributing, retailing or using sky lanterns -which have been the subject of sustained NFU lobbying because of the risks they pose, both to crops and livestock.

NFU assistant land management adviser Jonathan Evans said: “The NFU welcomes the fact that Trading Standards and the wider industry are taking a much closer look at this issue and have recognised the dangers of releasing Chinese lanterns. However, we are still calling for an outright ban and will continue to lobby government until action is taken.

“People who buy lanterns have got to realise just how dangerous they can be - they have caused fires on an industrial scale, destroy acres of crops and kill or injure farm animals – so the public should consider alternative ways to mark celebrations.

“It’s also important to point out that launching a lantern in an inappropriate location or during unsuitable weather conditions, or in any manner that results in damage to persons or property may make you liable for criminal charges or civil claims for damages.

“The NFU has been encouraged to see local councils such as Essex banning the use of lanterns on its land and large retailers like Tesco and Poundland taking action. We would urge others to follow their lead.”