Ban on releasing balloons in Flanders

Ban on releasing balloons in Flanders
Flanders is now, after the Netherlands, also taking steps to prohibit the release of balloons. Flemish Minister for Environment, Koen Van den Heuvel (CD&V), wants to make it easier for municipalities to include a prohibition for balloon releasing in their police regulations.

Environmental experts have long been calling for a ban on the release of balloons, since most of them end up as litter or in the sea, reported Het Nieuwsblad.

According to Van den Heuvel, there is enough support in Flanders for a balloon ban. He considers it "feasible to forbid the deliberate release of balloons", according to Het Nieuwblad.

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The Flemish police model regulations, on which municipalities base their own regulations, will from now on include articles that can prohibit the release of balloons, or at least require permission in advance.

At the moment, only a handful of Flemish municipalities have issued a ban on their own initiative. However, since the regulation will now be included by default, experts hope many more municipalities will introduce such a ban.

In the Netherlands -where around one million balloons go up yearly- more than 60 municipalities already forbid releasing balloons at weddings or other occasions. 23% of all released balloons end up in the sea, according to a Dutch study.

Only the deliberate release of balloons is prohibited. A child who accidentally releases a balloon does not have to fear a penalty.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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