A possible ban on releasing of sky lanterns and helium-filled balloons may be introduced by the district council.

Members of Epping Forest District Council discussed the motion raised during the full council meeting on Tuesday, February 25.

Independent Councillor, Stephen Murray, noted that he became aware of the environmental issue following two mass releases of balloons and lanterns in August 2019.

Residents gathered in memory of Sophia Khan, 16, and Max Halcrow, 21, both died in a car crash on Goldings Hill, Loughton, on Saturday, August 24.

Councillor Murray said that the owner of a stable close to the site had told him staff work overnight because of safety concerns.

He said: "They can travel miles and once released you don't know where they are going to go.

“The RSPCA receives a call every two hours about animals that are injured by litter and let’s be honest once you have a mass release of helium balloons and sky lanterns, that’s flying litter."

“I accept that we will not be able to ever stop it fully,” he added. “It’s about sending a clear message, that once we get a report from our environmental services we do not want the release of these two items on council land.”

More than 50 councils across the UK have already introduced the ban across council land, including one other, Braintree, Gloucester, Durham and Somerset.

Green Party Councillor Steven Neville seconded Councillor Murray’s points, saying: “This is a very incremental and measured motion.”

Liberal Democrat Councillor Cherry McCredie noted how animals such as cows and horses will fatally eat the metal particles of landed sky lanterns, stating: "I really am anti these lanterns."

The council said they will write to the Government asking to "actively consider a general legal ban on their release”.