Saturday 23 June 2018

Cork set to ban balloon launches amid fears they are killing birds

Balloon releases can be
Balloon releases can be "lethal" for the environment

Kathy Armstrong

Balloon releases look set to be banned in Cork amid fears they are killing birds and marine creatures.

Releasing balloons has become an increasingly popular way to mark events like weddings, charity launches and memorials but Independent Councillor Marcia D'Alton wants them banned in Co Cork as they can have a devastating impact on our environment and wildlife.

She told Independent.ie: "Balloons are generally made of two materials, either mylar or latex.

"Mylar are the plastic balloons and they don't biodegrade, most of the balloon releases are with latex balloons as they're cheaper.

"Latex is a natural material that biodegrades but in the process of making them we add stuff to the material to make them more durable.

"Somewhere between 85 per cent and 95pc of the balloons released go into the air and then with the conditions of atmosphere and pressure they'll burst on the way up.

"Those that don't float up will burst and land either in the sea or on the land, they take about six months to biodegrade on the land or 12 months to biodegrade in the sea.

"On land if birds digest them or become entangled in the spring they can die.

"Balloons can cause damage to marine animals who might try to eat them, if this happens it can twist their digestive system and they may starve to death or they can become wrapped in their fins, it's quite upsetting."

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She added: "We wouldn't be the first to do this, balloon releases have been banned in some cities in the US and in parts of Australia and the UK.

"So the environmental damage of releasing balloons is well known."

Cllr D'Alton proposed to the southern committee of Cork County Council that balloon releases are banned and she said that introducing a by-law is the best way to go.

She said that the proposal will now be brought to the Environment Strategic Planning Committee for review, once the by-law has been drafted it will be presented to Cork County Council.

Ms D'Alton is confident this by-law will be passed.

She said: "I hope that this raises awareness, I think if people knew the damage balloons can do in the wild they wouldn't release them.

"Realistically we can see this happening and the new by-law being introduced within a year.

"I don't know what the punishment would be for holding a balloon release, it would usually be a fine in the case of a byline but I don't know how much that would be, it would need to be discussed in the future."

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