South West Conservative MEP Julie Girling
has again criticised the use of Chinese lanterns following the large-scale blaze at a plastic recycling plant in Smethwick, West Midlands that firefighters believe was started by a Chinese lantern.
The fire, which caused £6m worth of damage and burned 100,000 tonnes of plastic, took 200 firefighters hours to tackle. Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service are now leading a drive to raise awareness of the dangers and potential risks of the lanterns which they say are often seen as a gentler alternative to fireworks.
In January 2011, Mrs Girling sought the opinion of the European Commission who accepted the Chinese sky lanterns often used as part of the festivities pose a safety risk and suggested they could be banned
Quoted in the Western Morning News, Mrs Girling said
: "The events in the West Midlands are yet another example of just how dangerous these lanterns can be. Yes they look pretty as they float through the sky but what goes up must come down – this time a lantern has landed on a recycling plant and caused a massive fire which has resulted in the injuries of two fire fighters and the destruction of a large business.
"I will now be writing to the Home Secretary as a matter of urgency to call for a ban on these lanterns, it is only a matter of time before someone is killed as a consequence of their release. In other EU countries, they have been either banned or removed from sale.
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