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Gibraltar bans the release of helium balloons to protect the environment

  • The move has been warmly welcomed by numerous environmental and animal welfare groups at home and abroad

Gibraltar already has a reputation for innovation in protecting the environment and this has just been enhanced further with the introduction of a ban on gas-filled balloons. This follows on from the decision a few years ago to stop the release of thousands of red and white balloons which was always a feature of the National Day celebrations, a move which was applauded by environmental organisations all over the world. This latest ban on the deliberate release of helium balloons is part of the Gibraltar government's commitment to clean seas, free of plastics and other non-biodegradable materials which cause so much harm to wildlife.

The move has been welcomed by the Animal Interfaith Alliance, an international association of faith groups founded in Britain which is concerned about the welfare of animals. The Alliance's member organisations and individual members include Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jains, Jews, Muslims and Sikhs who are united by their common concern for animals, based on their various faiths.

The Alliance, which has expressed its concerns as to the damage caused by plastics to the environment, especially the seas, and the destruction caused to vulnerable marine creatures, has sent a letter to Gibraltar's chief minister Fabian Picardo and environment minister Dr John Cortes, praising the initiative and ending the letter with "Thank you for this enlightened advance and we hope that it will be emulated by many other governments, including that of the UK".

In response to the letter, Dr Cortes said, "Surrounded as we are by sea, we accept that we have a responsibility towards marine life, both in our waters and beyond. It is gratifying to receive letters such as this as a result of our environmental policies."