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Reims 'sued over balloon release'

Group accuses city of “littering” after 2,000 balloons were released to mark centenary of outbreak of World War One

AN ENVIRONMENTAL group has said it plans to sue the city of Reims for “littering” after 2,000 balloons were released to mark the centenary of the outbreak of World War One on Sunday.

The green organisation Robin des Bois said that the common act of releasing balloons is, “a nuisance and a danger to the environment and biodiversity”.

Its president Jacky Bonnemains said: “Fragments of balloons are found in the stomachs of birds, marine mammals, sea turtles and fish, and are a real poison for them.”

The group said that this is “the first complaint for this type of pollution”. The penalty for this type of offence is a fine of up to €75,000 and two years in prison.

The red, white and blue balloons were released on Sunday to mark the centenary of the declaration of hostilities between Germany and France. Each balloon carried a postcard tribute to soldiers who gave their lives for France.

The group had written to Reims’ UMP mayor Arnaud Robinet before Sunday’s event, asking him to prevent the balloons being released. The letter warned that “The abandonment of waste in large quantities as envisioned by your municipality is a crime punishable by two years imprisonment and a €75,000 fine”, France 3 Champagne-Ardenne said.

Mr Bonnemains also warned that claims that the latex balloons released in Reims were biodegradable was “not proven”.

He said that, “it takes place over a very long time and does not prevent short-term pollution”.

Photo: UnionArdennais screengrab

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