A TRAVEL agent will no longer release 500 biodegradable balloons as part of a 'plastic pledge' campaign because of the "short term impact this could have on the environment."

Quartz Travel was planning to set off hundreds of balloons filled with messages to highlight plastic pollution at sea, but the stunt attracted criticism from some who contacted the company to point out the balloons could still harm wildlife on land and at sea.

The company, which was working with Greenpeace and planning to stage the release outside Ask restaurant, in Blake Street, on February 24 as part of its travel show, is now working on an alternative.

Paul Smith, general manager of Quartz Travel, said: "After consultation with Greenpeace, who are eager to support the event, we have decided against releasing balloons into the sky.

"The balloons are biodegradable, however, we understand the short term impact this could have on the environment, so we have decided against using this method to spread awareness.

"We are coming up with alternative plans for the 24th now which don't involve the release of balloons."

Greenpeace’s ‘Plastics Pledge’ calls on big corporations to cut down on the use of plastic and for Governments to take action and tackle the problem.

John Cossham, a campaigner and manager of Treemendous, a project to plant 5,000 trees in York, said: "I would love them to get behind Treemendous.

"It's much more long term and we have sites in York crying out for decent trees to be put in.

"I'm very grateful they have seen sense and haven't decided to release pollution to highlight pollution.

"I'm pleased they have responded to the public outcry." 

A spokesman for Greenpeace added: "We’re always pleased when a business wants to help in the fight against plastic waste, as a growing number now are. People often see us criticising companies, but when a business wants to do the right thing, we’ll provide as much information and advice as we can.”