BALLOON BAN: Mass balloon releases like this at Dalby State High School in 2014 will be banned from occurring in Rockhampton due to today's local law change.
BALLOON BAN: Mass balloon releases like this at Dalby State High School in 2014 will be banned from occurring in Rockhampton due to today's local law change. Contributed

Fines of up to $2500 for mass balloon releases

ROCKHAMPTON Regional Council is jumping on the bandwagon of stopping the mass release of helium balloons for local events.

The move was a natural shift for the council when they were updating their local laws given that several other councils had already put a halt to mass releases due to environmental concerns.

The local ban, which brings local laws into line with an existing state ban, was endorsed by council today, but won't be implemented until the state government signs off on it.

Councillor Ellen Smith said a ban specifically on mass helium balloon releases was a subject that has been bandied around she joined council, because deflated balloons not only littered the surrounding countryside but could kill local wildlife when mistaken for food.

"I think it's a great decision myself,” Cr Smith said.

"Every time I see balloons up in the air I wonder what animal is going to ingest those balloons.

"We have workshopped it before, we've spoken about it and thought about it and we've decided today that releasing them intentionally will be banned under our local laws.”

"If someone was to release one accidentally, we're not going to do on-the-spot fines.

She said the council wasn't intending to go around looking for the release of helium balloons, but if there is a complaint, they would send out a local law officer.

READ: Keep Australia Beautiful wants helium balloons banned in QLD

BALLOON BAN: Rockhampton Region Council announced a ban to stop the mass release of helium balloons for local events.
BALLOON BAN: Rockhampton Region Council announced a ban to stop the mass release of helium balloons for local events. Leighton Smith

Council agreed to impose fines and if necessary, a maximum penalty of $2500 would be enforced by the court system.

Councillor Drew Wickerson agreed with Cr Smith saying the council needed to lead by example.

Cr Wickerson said helium was a finite resource and it was essential it was preserved for other more important purposes, like supplying medical equipment.

He suggested that people considering a symbolic mass balloon release for weddings or other events might instead consider undertaking a mass tree planting.



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