A senior Green Party politician in Germany has called for helium-filled balloons to be banned — on the grounds they are dangerous to birdlife.
Anne Kura, leader for the Greens in the state of Lower Saxony, has stood by the proposal despite ridicule from the regional government.
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“On the one hand we have the brief and colourful image of balloons in the air, on the other we have pictures of dead birds,” she told Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung newspaper. “In the vast majority of cases the balloons land in open spaces. Birds and other animals eat the soft balloon remains and then starve to death with a full stomach.”
The German Greens have shaken off their reputation for ideological extremism to emerge as a mainstream political party in recent years.
They are currently second in the national polls to Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and are threatening to usurp the Social Democrats (SPD) as the main party of the centre-Left. But Ms Kura’s proposals appear to hark back to the German Greens’ traditional image as a “party of bans”.
They were swiftly rejected by the regional environment ministry for Lower Saxony. “A ban on balloons isn’t going to save the world,” a spokesman said. “People have always connected balloons rising into the sky with hopes and dreams and hopes. Why should we take away these feelings?”
Ms Kura was at pains to stress she was not calling for a general ban on balloons. “Balloons in the living room at children’s birthday parties are fine and fun,” she said. “The point is when you let helium-filled balloons rise, they’ll end up in the wild and then be eaten by birds that will die painfully.”
Ms Kura is not the first to float the idea of a ban. The city of Gütersloh in the nieghbouring state of North Rhine-Westphalia declared itself a “balloon-free zone” earlier this month and banned the use of helium-filled balloons at events on publicly owned land.