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Sky lanterns to be banned by Sandwell Council five years after Jayplas blaze

By Luke Bartlett | Sandwell | News | Published:

A ban on sky lanterns could be brought in nearly five years on from one of the biggest fires the region has ever seen.

This fire at Jayplas Ltd in Smethwick was started by a Chinese lantern

Sandwell Council is to debate bringing in a policy to outlaw all sky lanterns at a cabinet meeting next month.

It comes nearly five years on from a fire at Jayplas Ltd in Smethwick where a single lantern destroyed the recycling plant.

Councillor Elaine Costigan, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: "The issue is that when these lanterns are set alight and they go up in the sky and they come down it is affecting the animals.

More than 200 firefighters tackled the flames back in 2013

"We want a policy in place so that if anyone comes to Sandwell we won't be letting them set off sky lanterns. We are putting in a policy banning sky lanterns."

It is a move that West Midlands Fire Service said it would support.

More than 200 firefighters attended the scene of the Jayplas fire in 2013, which caused £6 million worth of damage and shut the plastics and paper recycling plant for more than six months.

A spokesman for the service said: “Whilst sky lanterns are a popular and beautiful sight, the potential damage they can cause is significant.

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“They’re not only a fire hazard but also a danger to livestock, agriculture, camping activities, thatched properties and hazardous material sites.

"We don’t support the use of these devices and we urge members of the public and event organisers not to use them.

“We would support the decision of any council that proposes a ban.”

Councillor Costigan said sites like Sandwell Valley Park, which sits next to Sandwell Park Farm, were the kinds of area where lanterns are set off.

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And the council is keen to address the situation before the summer holidays when lanterns are often set off.

Staffordshire County Council banned the use of sky lanterns on council-owned property after the Jayplas fire in June 2013, while Tesco and Poundland stopped selling them.

The policy will be discussed at Sandwell Council's next cabinet meeting on April 18.

Luke Bartlett

By Luke Bartlett
Trainee Reporter - @lbartlett_star

Trainee Express & Star reporter covering Dudley and Sandwell. Get in touch on 01902 319445 or via luke.bartlett@expressandstar.co.uk.

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