People are being warned about using sky lanterns after a barn owl was burnt and killed.

Sussex Wildlife Trust (SWT) sent out an e-newsletter warning people that the lanterns are a danger to wildlife following the injuries to the owl.

It’s not clear how the lantern injured the owl.

With Burning the Clocks taking place in Brighton tonight (December 21) SWT member Jane Hawkins decided to get in touch with organiser Same Sky to ask if they could help her spread the word about the dangers the lanterns can cause to wildlife.

Ms Hawkins, who is also an allotment plot holder and one of Brighton and Hove City Council’s volunteer shepherds, claims she saw hundreds of lanterns being let off by people watching the procession last year.

She said: “A few days later when walking on the ridge of Sheepcote Valley I found two that had landed there.

“Only a couple of weeks before our sheep had been on that very patch of ground and could have been harmed. I remember being concerned at the time."

“The essence of the Burning the Clocks festival is the idea of children making their own lanterns out of paper and willow, which they carry to the beach and set fire to under safe and controlled conditions.

“There is the lovely homemade aspect to the whole procession and children’s pride in their handiwork.

"Now this has been hijacked by people who don’t participate in making hand-held lanterns but pop into a shop and then let off one of these potentially lethal wire structures burning petro-chemicals.

“I contacted Same Sky through their website and got a reply almost instantly. They are concerned, too.”

John Varah, artistic director for Same Sky, said: “We use handheld lanterns but we ask people not to bring sky lanterns to our event and if people ask we warn them of the dangers.”

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