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Popped: The use and release of balloons will be banned under a proposed change to Shellharbour council’s events policy. File image.If you’re a Shellharbour resident thinking of having a balloon-filled kids party or celebration on public land –or even in your own backyard –the council wants to burst your bubble.
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Councillors this weekvoted to exhibitchanges to the council’s sustainable eventspolicy, which would prohibit balloonsat council events and at any events on council land.

And while theNSW Government’s Protection of the Environment Operations Act already makes itillegal to release more than 20 gas-inflated balloons at any event, Shellharbour has proposed to go one step further and ban the “use” of them altogether.

Under proposed changes, itssustainable events policy would read:

“To minimise environmental impacts and unnecessary waste to landfill council prohibits the use of plastic bags, polystyrene product or the use and/or release of balloons at all events on public land or at those events conducted by Shellharbour City Council.”

Further, the council has moved to prevent the use of these banned items in its citizens’ homes and businesses, stating that it “discourages the use of these materials at events on private land in the Shellharbour local government area”.

The policy notes there can be on the spot fines issued for the release of more than 20 helium balloons.

However, its is unclear whether Shellharbour residents could also be fined for simply “using” a balloon on public land.

The policy change was prompted by a motion from Greens councillor Peter Moran, lodged in September, to minimise the damage balloons can cause to the environment.

Cr Morannoted balloons caused particular damageto marine life, but could also harm land animals.

He said it was thereforenecessary to update the council’s policy, so people organising events or making symbolic gestures to remember their loved ones were aware of the rules.

“We need to make sure organisers of events and members of the community are aware of their legal obligations,” Cr Moran told the council in September.

“We should also see if we can go a bit further and ensure people have their memories of celebration or remembrance without environmental damage.”

Shellharbour council already has a fact sheet –entitled “What goes up must come down” –advising residents of balloon alternatives, including bubbles,petals andtree plantings.

The draft of the council’supdated sustainable events policy will go on public exhibition for 28 days.

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