A RESIDENT has called for restrictions to be placed on Chinese lanterns for fears they could interfere with overhead aircraft.
Liz Segal, of Vine Lane, Uxbridge, said: "When we came back from holiday last week we found a Chinese lantern in our back garden.
"We are right on the flight path of RAF Northolt, to be sending these things 500 feet into the air is dangerous. Not only that but in Hillingdon we are in close proximity to Heathrow Airport, people should not be doing this in this area.
"People need to be thoughtful about it, I don't like to see anything banned, but perhaps some sort of restrictions should be brought in."
Chinese lanterns are often set off at weddings, birthdays or other celebrations and shoot up into the night sky, and are carried upwards by the heat until they burn out and drop to earth, and are seen as a cheerful and safe alternative to fireworks.
There are currently no legal restrictions on the lanterns, but the issue of safety has previously been raised by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg in the House of Commons, because of problems they cause to farmers.
They are made of tissue paper around a wire frame they are not biodegradable. So, when they land in farmers’ fields they have been caught up in hay and straw that is being harvested for animal feed, which if then eaten by an animal can cause serious injury or even death.
Earlier this year Manchester Airport warned against launching Chinese lanterns beneath its flight paths, warning they could bring down a plane and was backed by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
Mark Swan, director of airspace policy at the CAA, said: "Unfortunately, sky lanterns do pose a very real safety risk to aircraft.
"They can be ingested into the engines of airborne aircraft and also become debris on runways. We urge anyone releasing lanterns to think carefully about the consequences to aviation and if necessary to contact local airports well in advance to warn them of the impending release."
The lanterns are often confused by well-intentioned members of the public and mistaken for UFOs.
Staff at RAF Northolt have reported that they collect around two to three lanterns a week which have fallen onto the airfield.
While it is not illegal to light the lanterns, Hillingdon Council has asked residents to think twice about launching them, particularly if they live close to RAF Northolt or Heathrow Airport.