A Sussex farming couple have railed against “dangerous” Chinese lanterns after 28 landed on their farm.

Beef and arable farmers Tony and Sue Robinson, of Sproutes Farm, Coolham, near Billingshurst, said they were lucky to escape a fire after lit lanterns scorched their land last weekend.

The couple said the popular orbs were “not romantic or glamorous” and urged people not to launch them.


Mrs Robinson said: “All we want is for people to be aware of what could happen and we hope we will dissuade people from releasing Chinese lanterns.

“If this had happened three weeks earlier, during the dry weather, we could have had a major fire here as many lanterns landed in fields that were earlier growing corn.

“Many were still alight on landing. One landed yards from our supplies of winter straw and feed for the cattle.

“These lanterns are not romantic or glamorous - they are in fact dangerous and they’re litter. I believe it is an offence to litter.

"Bamboo framed lanterns, like the ones that landed on our farm, do pose a fire risk and they could be dangerous to livestock.”

The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) is lobbying for a ban. An NFU spokesman said: “Chinese lanterns with wire frames can kill or maim farm animals – cows have died from ingesting wire from lanterns.

"Chinese lanterns can be accidentally harvested in grass crops that later become hay and silage. Animals can also get entangled in them.”

In August Rodmell farmer David Robinson, of Northease Farm, near Lewes, warned a Chinese lantern could have “burned folk to death in their homes” after it floated into his barn.

In April a Chinese lantern almost triggered a fire on a yacht after it landed at Eastbourne Marina.

The floating orbs have been mistaken for UFOs leading to numerous calls to the police and The Argus.

More seriously coastguards have warned people the lanterns have led to a string of false alarms along the Sussex coast after they were mistaken for flares.