South Scotland MSP, Joan McAlpine has asked the public not to take part in an “irresponsible” campaign to set off Sky Lanterns in support of the NHS at the weekend. She warned that the event could put the emergency services under even greater pressure.

The campaign, which involves lighting paper lanterns and letting them float off into the night sky, has been widely condemned by fire services and the forestry sector. The MSP has also been inundated with complaints from angry farmers and residents, concerned that buildings, farmland and livestock could be at risk.

Commenting Ms McAlpine said,

“It’s an online company that specialises in selling these sky lanterns that appears to be behind this irresponsible campaign. I’ve now written to the owners, asking them to do what’s right and end it now.

“The National Farmers Union Scotland as well as local farmers and people who work in our emergency services have all been in touch, asking me to help put a stop to this danger.

“The risk to livestock, wildlife, land and property cannot be understated. It’s widely believed that these lanterns were the cause of a fire at a recycling plant in 2013 that took 200 firefighters to extinguish it. They are also thought to be responsible for a fire in a German zoo earlier this year that killed dozens of monkeys and chimpanzees.

“Rather than supporting our emergency services, this irresponsible campaign is potentially putting them under even greater pressure, so I urge everyone not to take part.”