MP calls for Buxton sky lantern festival to be cancelled

There are growing calls for balloon and Chinese lantern releases to be banned.
There are growing calls for balloon and Chinese lantern releases to be banned.

Renewed concerns have been expressed over a planned sky lantern festival in Buxton, with the current dry and hot weather conditions and ongoing moorland fires affecting surrounding counties.

Lights Fest is scheduled to take place on Saturday July 28 at Buxton Raceway, despite fears over the potential impact to the countryside and wildlife.

High Peak MP Ruth George said she had become increasingly concerned, given the moorland fires in Lancashire, Greater Manchester and the neighbouring Staffordshire Moorlands, and has now called for the event to be cancelled and for all tickets to be refunded.

She said: “I am particularly concerned this is happening when we have had a period of effective drought when fire risks are especially high, and in the heart of the Peak District, which is environmentally sensitive, adjacent to large areas of the national park and rich in wildlife.

“I have no problem with visitors coming to Buxton, but with such a high fire risk and so many concerns about sky lanterns, I want to make sure there is no fire risk on our moorland, or to Buxton.”

The organisers of Lights Fest, who run lantern events around the globe, claim they have a ‘perfect safety record’. On their website, it says: “The rice-paper body of the lantern is fire-resistant to prevent the flame from travelling. We have designed the fuel source in such a way that the flame is completely out before the lanterns descend and land.

It adds: “Regardless, we always have a fire crew waiting in the landing zone as a precaution.”

But Terry McDermott, Chief Fire Officer for Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We will be strongly advising against this event. There are many risks, especially since we have a dry weather forecast.”

The Derbyshire Safety Advisory Group, which is made up of representatives from the police, fire and local authorities, has also met to discuss the issue and has been liaising with the event organisers regarding the ongoing concerns.

A Peak District National Park Authority spokesman added: “In the current dry conditions moorland fires spread very quickly and are devastating to the landscape, lethal for wildlife and a threat to people and homes.

“The use of sky lanterns has the potential to increase this risk, in particular with the release site situated with similar habitats to those currently affected to both the north and south.”

The Advertiser has contacted the organisers for a response.

There is a petition against the event which can be found here