Senior Lib Dem Calls For Ban On Chinese Lanterns After Smethwick Fire

02-07-13(4)picChinese lanterns must be banned before they cause a fatal fire, a senior Liberal Democrat MP said after one started a huge blaze at a recycling centre. 

According to The Independent, Tim Farron, MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale and Lib Dem party president, said that Chinese lanterns are “immensely dangerous” and should be banned.

Farron has campaigned against the use of the lanterns since farmers voiced concerns about the impact on crops and livestock.

Tim Farron, MP – “They are spectacular things so I am loath to ban them or to seek to ban them. But they are immensely dangerous.

A lantern was captured on CCTV falling on to the Smethwick plastics recycling site and has been blamed for igniting the blaze in Smethwick, which caused £6m of damage.

Farron said it was lucky that nobody was hurt and that it is “laudable for governments to take their time and be cautious about banning things, but the evidence now very strongly points towards that ban,” he told the BBC Radio 4.

He said: “This could be repeated again and it could have a loss of life attached to it which would be an absolutely appalling tragedy.

“I think all of us would feel utterly, utterly appalling if we had failed to take action when we had the chance.”

He went on: “They are spectacular things so I am loath to ban them or to seek to ban them. But they are immensely dangerous.

“The Spanish, who are a pretty fun-loving group, have banned them in recent years as well because of the impact on livestock, on crops and indeed property and potentially the threat to life.”

The Chief Fire Officers’ Association has called for an urgent review, and has called for fire services nationally to look at the possibility of working with councils, police and trading standards officers to discourage the use of lanterns, including the possibility that licences being needed to use them for public events.

Fire crews are expected to remain at the recycling plant today, where they have been using plant machinery to “break up” bales of plastic to get at the heart of the blaze.

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