With Caerphilly, Blaenau Gwent and Monmouthshire now banning sky lanterns, Newport City Council is the only local authority in Gwent which allows their use.

For many people, sky lanterns are beautiful and impressive visually.

They have been made for centuries and are a key feature well-established festivals across the world.

But with 16 out of 22 councils in Wales now voluntarily banning the lanterns, RSPCA Cymru’s call for an “outright band” is closer than ever before.

Several groups have raised concerns about their danger as a fire hazard and the risk they cause to animals.

“Sadly, many people are not aware of how harmful they can be for animals - including birds, wildlife and farm animals,” said Paul Smith, RSPCA Cymru’s public affairs manager.

He added: “It’s fantastic news that Torfaen council has become the latest local authority to ban sky lanterns, and RSPCA Cymru was pleased to work closely with them to help achieve this.

“An outright ban on sky lanterns, which can cause injury, suffering, and death to animals, remains our primary objective.

“We’d love to see the Welsh Government bringing forward proposals to achieve that in Wales.”

More than 200,000 sky lanterns, often known as Chinese Lanterns, are sold in the UK each year, according to the RSPCA.

The animal charity warns that birds and wildlife can become entangled in the wire or bamboo frames leading to injury or death.

Animals can accidentally eat fallen lantern parts which can cause internal bleeding, leading to fatalities.

South Wales Fire and Rescue has also warned of the fire risks associated with the lanterns.

A spokeswoman from the service said: “South Wales Fire and Rescue Service does not recommend the use of sky lanterns and it supports the unitary authorities’ decision to ban their use in the majority of the local communities of South Wales.

“However, the service appreciates that sky lanterns continue to be sold in Wales and across the UK, so a local community may still decide to use them, in which case they should follow the manufacturer’s instructions and take great care in their use.

“If there is a plan to release sky lanterns, SWFRS asks that they are used by responsible adults only and that there is water or other firefighting facilities available at the launch site, as well as the area being kept clear of combustible materials.

“The service would recommend that areas including fields with crops and livestock, areas of dense woodland and areas of heath and bracken – especially in dry conditions – are avoided for fire safety reasons.”

Safe alternatives to sky lanterns suggested by RSPCA Cymru include stationary candles, LED lanterns and outdoor lights.

Anthony Hunt, leader of Torfaen County Borough Council, said the local authority had “responded to the growing expectation” by implementing the ban.

“For some time we have recognised the dangers associated with the use of sky lanterns,” he said.

“We have responded to the growing expectation for local authorities to ban the release of sky lanterns and massed balloons from council owned land and have asked our school governing bodies to adopt this policy.”

Although Newport City Council has yet to implement the ban, it is urging residents to “think carefully” before releasing them because of potential risks.

A council spokeswoman said: “We are aware that some councils have introduced a voluntary ban on the release of such lanterns and helium balloons on their land. “In Newport, we would encourage everyone to act responsibly and consider the potential hazards, before deciding whether to release sky lanterns or balloons wherever they may be.”

The last independent research commissioned by the Welsh Government and Defra concluded in early 2014 that the dangers to livestock and the environment from such lanterns and helium balloons is low.

However the report found that the fire risk associated with the use of sky lanterns was significant.

The RSPCA cite several incidents involving sky lanterns where animals have died.

These include a barn owl which died after becoming entangled in a lantern frame and a nine-month-old goat which died after the frame of a lantern punctured her throat.

Caerphilly County Borough became the first Gwent council to introduce the ban in November, 2013.

The decision was taken after several small incidents in Deri, Hengoed and Crumlin including when a lantern landed on top a village hall as well as grass fires.

Cllr Andrew Lewis (Labour, Crumlin) put forward the motion which was passed by Caerphilly council after a fire in Hafodyrynys caused by a sky lantern.

“It went on to the roof and set it alight,” said Cllr Lewis.

“It could have been very serious but fortunately it was quickly put out.

“The ban has definitely had an effect, we have not had a fire caused by a lantern from that day on.

“They are dangerous and unnecessary.”

Cllr Lewis added that he welcomed the ban implemented by Torfaen council.

Blaenau Gwent council followed suit less than a year later, voting to implement the ban in September, 2014.

The Welsh Government wrote to councils across Wales encouraging them to introduce a voluntary ban in October, 2013.

A spokeswoman for Caerphilly County Borough Council added: “A motion banning the sale and use of Chinese lanterns on council owned land was passed by councillors back in November 2013, after the motion was put forward by a local councillor.

“The ruling extends to all land owned by the local authority, including public parks.”

Monmouthshire County Council became the third local authority in Gwent to introduce the ban in 2015, following the lead of Caerphilly and Blaenau Gwent.

A spokesman from the council said: “Concern from a wide range of organisations such as the Marine Conservation Society, RNLI, farmers’ unions, RSPCA, RSPB, Keep Britain Tidy and the fire and rescue service about the possible impact of sky lanterns led to the council imposing a ban on their release from our land. “We hope that this positive step taken in August 2015 has contributed to a safer environment for livestock and the county’s communities.

“Since the ban we have received no requests for releasing such items from the council’s land.”

The campaign begun slowly but is growing across the UK and the world in countries including Germany, Spain and Brazil.

An outright ban in Wales is now closer than ever before.