THE PRESIDENT of a national ramblers’ group has called for a “formal ban” on balloon releases, after becoming fed up of finding them littered across fragile ecosystems.
Lucy Wallace, who is the first female president of Ramblers Scotland, is demanding legislation to curb the problem, after repeatedly finding the plastic waste near her home on the Isle of Arran.
The 45-year-old warns that balloons pose a specific risk to birds, who mistake them for jellyfish and end up consuming the toxic waste.
Lucy took to Twitter last week to blast the practice after finding a plastic balloon while out on a walk.
The wildlife guide posted on Twitter last Wednesday saying: “Found this horrible thing floating on the surf this morning. A balloon filled with feathers and tinsel. Grim.
“Please, for the love of all things good, just don’t buy/release this c***. #dontletgo #balloonrage.”
Many social media users expressed concern over the finding.
@justlovefood wrote: “Awful, let’s ban balloons of any sort and celebrate without them”.
@Fatmanjoe1 added: “They are a pain in the backside for the railways too, as they frequently tangle in the overhead lines causing delays until someone goes and retrieves them”.
And @Helenstace_HWT commented: “Every time I beach clean, which was a lot during lockdown, and again last week, I find the remains of balloons!”
Someone suggested that the balloon found by Lucy had been released as part of a remembrance service.
However, Lucy responded saying: “That is desperately sad. I’m sure if they understood the massive harm, they would hate their relative to be remembered in this way”.
Speaking today, Lucy said: “My personal view from a lot of time on the shore is we need to see a formal ban on balloon releases.
“To me it is a no brainer it needs legislative control, helium balloons are really problematic because when you let go they are gone.
“I walk along the south coast a lot as it’s part of my job as a wildlife guide.
“We find quite a lot of plastic and rubbish, we also find balloons, it’s a recurring problem.
“The balloon problem is a really specific problem which impacts our wildlife.
“Balloons can look like jellyfish and sea birds can eat balloons and it sits in their stomach making them feel full and they starve to death.
“The string at the bottom of the balloon means gannets can get tangled in this. Even biodegradable balloons don’t break down soon enough.
Lucy added the balloons pose a particular threat to delicate ecosystems.
She explained: “The south coast of Arran is a sensitive area, it’s the sleepy corner of the island and down there most of the rubbish comes in on the tide.”
“It gets washed from urban areas and gets taken out to sea, it comes in on the tide and it can be bad when there is stormy weather.
“Arran welcomes visitors as we thrive on it and it is very important to us, when people come over, we hope they look after it and love it as much as we do.
“I just want to get the message out there, nobody means it, but my post has created quite a lot of feeling. It’s good to see people care.”