Worcester balloon launch 'poses threat to wildlife' say campaigners

Worcester News: New year balloon launch ‘poses threat to wildlife’ New year balloon launch ‘poses threat to wildlife’

A WILDLIFE centre is campaigning to cancel a charity New Year’s balloon launch in Worcester amid concerns for animal welfare.

The Vale Wildlife Centre, based in Beckford, near Tewkesbury, has condemned the midnight launch from the Diglis House Hotel in Worcester, saying the deflated balloons will litter wherever they land and if eaten, could kill an animal in 20 minutes.

But the hotel is standing by the event, which will raise money for the oncology department at Worcestershire Royal Hospital.

Caroline Gould, manager at the wildlife centre, said: “There’s a lot of documented evidence about balloons and it is something we have been campaigning about for years.

“There are documented cases about farm animals and horses which have died from eating discarded balloons and we are especially concerned about deer, as they will eat anything that is on the ground.

“Sometimes, we get people saying they use biodegradable ones. But they take months and a horse can die in 20 minutes.

“They are not going to degrade in 20 minutes. It is great that they want to raise money for charity, but it detracts from the goodness by thinking animals could die.”

To set up the launch of balloons, hotel spokesman Roy McDonald said they had to adhere to a strict code of conduct and have consulted guidelines to make sure they were doing it properly and safely.

“The balloons are biodegradable and we have checked with NABAS (National Association of Balloon Artists and Suppliers) – we’re not breaking the law,” he said.

“If we do another way of fund-raising and someone else complains, what do we do then? “I don’t like to think that wildlife will be killed but do we next stop balloons being sold and ban crisp packets?

"We’re doing it with the best of intentions but how can you reduce the risk of something to nothing? You can’t.”

Some concerns had also been passed to Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, a spokesman said.

A spokesman for the hospital said: “We are very grateful to the Diglis Hotel for choosing to support Worcestershire’s radiotherapy centre, which is currently under construction.

“We have received concerns regarding the nature of the event and we have passed these to the hotel for consideration.”

At midnight on New Year’s Eve, 50 balloons will take to the sky from the riverside hotel and, according to the NABAS guidelines, will start to bio-degrade within one hour and take the same amount of time as an oak leaf to completely break down.

The code of conduct written by the association, with input from leading environmental organisations, also said that if balloons were inflated properly and released, they would fly for five miles before shattering and falling to the ground and it was only if they were not prepared correctly that they could pose a threat to wildlife.

For further information or advice, call NABAS on 01989 762204.

 

Comments (7)

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4:23pm Mon 30 Dec 13

I'm_not_bitter says...

"..do we next stop balloons being sold and ban crisp packets? .." - No, but don't we already legislate against deliberately dropping rubbish on other peoples property? I thought we did.

NABAS say "A scientific survey carried out in 1989 revealed that on release a balloon will float up to a height of approximately 5 miles and then it becomes brittle and shatters into miniscule pieces falling back to earth at a rate of circa one piece every 5 square miles. " - Which is mathematically ridiculous, but what do you expect from a trade association trying to promote their product?

I have had relatives from Australia stay at this hotel - I hope they won't stay there again. There is no need for this - raise money some other way.
"..do we next stop balloons being sold and ban crisp packets? .." - No, but don't we already legislate against deliberately dropping rubbish on other peoples property? I thought we did. NABAS say "A scientific survey carried out in 1989 revealed that on release a balloon will float up to a height of approximately 5 miles and then it becomes brittle and shatters into miniscule pieces falling back to earth at a rate of circa one piece every 5 square miles. " - Which is mathematically ridiculous, but what do you expect from a trade association trying to promote their product? I have had relatives from Australia stay at this hotel - I hope they won't stay there again. There is no need for this - raise money some other way. I'm_not_bitter

4:37pm Mon 30 Dec 13

rtypus says...

It is absolutely ridiculous that this event is going ahead! To say “I don’t like to think that wildlife will be killed but do we next stop balloons being sold and ban crisp packets?" is pathetic - it is illegal to litter and basically balloon releases are littering! Wildlife near and far will be at risk as well as farm animals and domestic pets! The research into balloon releases is clear - they are not good for animals and should be banned! Of course an association such as NABAS are not going to say anything negative, their livelihood relies on such events! I am very disappointed that after all the campaigning that people have done to try and stop this event, that the organisers, who claim not to want to hurt wildlife, are going ahead with it!
It is absolutely ridiculous that this event is going ahead! To say “I don’t like to think that wildlife will be killed but do we next stop balloons being sold and ban crisp packets?" is pathetic - it is illegal to litter and basically balloon releases are littering! Wildlife near and far will be at risk as well as farm animals and domestic pets! The research into balloon releases is clear - they are not good for animals and should be banned! Of course an association such as NABAS are not going to say anything negative, their livelihood relies on such events! I am very disappointed that after all the campaigning that people have done to try and stop this event, that the organisers, who claim not to want to hurt wildlife, are going ahead with it! rtypus

4:51pm Mon 30 Dec 13

Andesine says...

I notice there is nothing in your report which states that all attempts to enter into a dialogue with the hotel has failed. They have ignored all contacts and deleted any attempt at discussion on their Facebook page.

It appears clear that the management have come up with this bright idea and will not even consider any environmentally or animal friendly alternative presented to them.

I suppose therefore it is too much to expect that they will pay compensation for any animals injured or killed by their balloons.
I notice there is nothing in your report which states that all attempts to enter into a dialogue with the hotel has failed. They have ignored all contacts and deleted any attempt at discussion on their Facebook page. It appears clear that the management have come up with this bright idea and will not even consider any environmentally or animal friendly alternative presented to them. I suppose therefore it is too much to expect that they will pay compensation for any animals injured or killed by their balloons. Andesine

8:52pm Mon 30 Dec 13

Fairone says...

Even if they don't care about the impact on wildlife you'd think they would care about the potential impact on their bookings and profits arising from a boycott by wildlife loving individuals and companies.
Even if they don't care about the impact on wildlife you'd think they would care about the potential impact on their bookings and profits arising from a boycott by wildlife loving individuals and companies. Fairone

9:53am Tue 31 Dec 13

highnoon says...

Disappointed by the Diglis House Hotel. It's littering. http://goo.gl/5FDoa
Disappointed by the Diglis House Hotel. It's littering. http://goo.gl/5FDoa highnoon

11:24am Tue 31 Dec 13

liketoknow says...

forgive me for being ignorant, but how does launching balloons raise money for charity?
forgive me for being ignorant, but how does launching balloons raise money for charity? liketoknow

6:43pm Tue 31 Dec 13

AndyMabbett says...

Sad to see you swallow NABAS spin - they're the trade body for people who make money selling balloons for release. Hardly impartial; and their claims have never been verified by independent, per-reviewed scientific study. As for "not breaking the law", it is an offence to drop "or otherwise deposit" litter. The "leading environmental organisations" NABAS claim to have consulted have told them time and again that balloons should not be released. It seems that your reporter did not, surprisingly, talk to any of them, to verify the claims made, and for balance. Indeed, organisations who oppose balloon releases include the Marine Conservation Society, the RSPB, the RSPCA, the National Farmers' Union, the Shark Trust, the Tidy Britain Group, Keep Scotland Beautiful, Scottish Natural Heritage, Tidy Wales, Tidy Northern Ireland, The Country Land and Business Association, Surfers Against Sewage, Clean Cornwall, county bird clubs, various Wildlife Trusts, the Bumblebee Trust, The Soil Association, The Waterways Trust, local councils and others. As for being like oak leaves, even biodegradable balloons can last - and do harm - for a year or more.
Sad to see you swallow NABAS spin - they're the trade body for people who make money selling balloons for release. Hardly impartial; and their claims have never been verified by independent, per-reviewed scientific study. As for "not breaking the law", it is an offence to drop "or otherwise deposit" litter. The "leading environmental organisations" NABAS claim to have consulted have told them time and again that balloons should not be released. It seems that your reporter did not, surprisingly, talk to any of them, to verify the claims made, and for balance. Indeed, organisations who oppose balloon releases include the Marine Conservation Society, the RSPB, the RSPCA, the National Farmers' Union, the Shark Trust, the Tidy Britain Group, Keep Scotland Beautiful, Scottish Natural Heritage, Tidy Wales, Tidy Northern Ireland, The Country Land and Business Association, Surfers Against Sewage, Clean Cornwall, county bird clubs, various Wildlife Trusts, the Bumblebee Trust, The Soil Association, The Waterways Trust, local councils and others. As for being like oak leaves, even biodegradable balloons can last - and do harm - for a year or more. AndyMabbett
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