A FARMER is calling for a ban on the sale of Chinese lanterns in York to protect farms and animals from the dangers they pose.

Roger Hildreth farms 150 dairy cows at Hessay, just outside the city ring road, and is so worried about the damage wires from the lanterns could do to his herd that he has put magnets in each of the animals’ stomachs.

Mr Hildreth said he had seen straw stacks at neighbouring farms completely destroyed by burning lanterns, while animals face a painful death if they accidentally eat fragments of the lanterns’ wires.

He said: “Last Christmas Eve – a windy night – some lanterns were let off nearby and blew past the farm. They cleared our straw shed by feet. If one had been just a few feet lower we would have lost £100,000.”

He branded the lanterns, which have become increasingly popular in recent years as people celebrate special occasions, a menace and wants to see them outlawed.

“If I stood downwind of someone’s house and let go of burning bits of paper, that would be antisocial.”

Mr Hildreth said he wanted City of York Council to pass a by-law banning the sale or use of the lanterns in York.

As well as fire, the lanterns posed a deadly risk for animals.

When burnt-out lanterns land in grass fields the wires can be caught by modern grass cutters which chop them into small pieces, which then make their way into animal feed.

Mr Hildreth has now placed small magnets - administered like medicines - in the animals’ stomachs to stop wires passing right through their digestive tracts.

He said the practice was growing among cattle farmers, who stand to lose up £3,000 if a cow was to die from eating the wire.

Hessay’s parish council is set to discuss the problem next week but Mr Hildreth Roger hopes the campaign will be taken further.

A spokesman for City of York Council said they would need central Government support to make a by-law banning the lanterns.