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Flying threat to farmers' crops
FARMERS in Taunton and Wellington are facing a new threat to their livelihood – Chinese flying lanterns.
Ian Johnson, South-West spokesman for the NFU, is warning partygoers of the risk the popular flaming party toys, which are often mistaken for UFOs, pose to fields and crops.
He says many farmers in the area are becoming increasing worried about the lanterns which can be bought for £12.50 and fly for 20 minutes at up to a mile high in the sky.
The fads are growing in popularity at weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, and other big events.
He believes acres of farmland could go up in smoke, destroying crops or scrubland, because of the small flame which burns inside the lantern to create the glowing effect.
He said: “The problem seems particularly bad in Somerset. If we have a very dry summer, particularly towards harvest time when things are tinder dry, there is a particular danger to crops and even bracken.
“We have read reports of a couple in Germany who set off lanterns which set fire to a property and caused £250,000 worth of a damage.
“It’s not only fire that is a danger. If wire ring that holds the paper lands in a field it could either wreck machinery or be chopped up and get into feed.
“If that got into the gut of a ruminant animal it could cause all kinds of trouble.”