Tesco to ban sky lanterns following FG campaign
30 January 2014 | By Olivia Midgley
FOLLOWING months of lobbying by Farmers Guardian and supporters of the Say No to Sky Lanterns campaign, supermarket giant Tesco has promised to pull the dangerous products off its shelves for good.
It comes as campaigners raised concerns about the risk to livestock and the threat of fire, ahead of Chinese New Year tomorrow (Friday) – an event traditionally celebrated by releasing fire lanterns into the sky.
Back in November the retailer told FG it would review its sky lantern sales following a raft of pressure from MPs, local authorities, farming unions and concerned members of the public.
Glastonbury founder Michael Eavis joined the drive after becoming fed up with the dangerous paper and wire objects littering land where his cattle graze.
Tesco agriculture director Tom Hind said: “We have listened to the feedback from customers and other groups including the farming community, and we think the right thing to do is to stop selling sky lanterns. We will not be sending any more stock to stores and any existing stock should be gone within a matter of weeks.”
Farmers Guardian editor Emma Penny said the decision was a ‘victory for common sense’, adding: “Everybody who supported our campaign should be proud of this outcome and let’s hope similar retailers follow suit.”
The CLA congratulated FG on today’s (Thursday) result.
CLA Midlands rural adviser Donna Tavernor said: “The Say No to Sky Lanterns campaign has the support of the industry and many organisations including the CLA, who have been lobbying against these airborne incendiaries.
“The dangers to land, property and livestock are well documented, and until the UK follows other countries by putting a nationwide ban in place, voluntary self-regulation is to be welcomed.”
Women’s Food and Farming Union (WFU) lead on sky lanterns Helen Bower added: “It is brilliant that Tesco is taking the lead and showing responsibility by banning these destructive flying fireballs.”
Co-founder of #clubhectare and sky lanterns campaigner Jono Dixon said the decision was ‘brilliant’ news for the countryside.
“This is the news we have all been waiting for and shows the power of the press and social media,” he said.
“Tesco have taken notice and now we expect the last few retailers still selling sky lanterns to fall in line.”
Lincolnshire farmer Chris Sheldon added: “This is great news for everyone, it shows that people are starting to see sense that setting off a pretty lantern into the countryside for it to potentially set fire to farms and harm livestock isn’t a good idea.
“Tesco is the nearest supermarket to our farm so hopefully this will see a reduction in the number we have landing on the farm.”
Several retailers have already banned sky lanterns and councils including Birmingham and Caerphilly have also taken steps to prohibit the use of sky lanterns.
Tesco has removed the products from its Tesco Delights website with immediate effect
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