Northumberland County Council has made a plea to the public to find environmentally friendly alternatives to balloon releases.

Balloons are often used at events and memorials but can cause severe damage to wildlife and the local marine environment, according to the council.

The council wants to make people aware of the long-lasting, harmful effects of balloon and lantern releases, which were banned on council land for their environmental impact.

County Councillor Colin Horncastle, cabinet member for Looking after our Environment, said: "While many people are aware of the environmental impacts of balloons, a few well-meaning people and organisations do still release them.

"People assume the term biodegradable means harmless, but this is simply not the case.

"No balloon is environmentally friendly.

“We do appreciate this is a sensitive and emotional issue as balloon releases are often organised to mark the death of a loved one.

"However, we also recognise the concerns of farmers, environmentalists, biologists and animal lovers, and their work to raise awareness of and tackle this problem."

He suggested alternatives such as jam jar lights, planting a tree or flower bed, or organising a memorial walk.

He added: "What we are asking is for people to seriously consider using alternatives...without detriment to the local environment."