We respond to the proposed return of skywriting after a 60-year ban

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By Matt Thomson
21st April 2020

The government say that they’re happy to lift the ban on creating smoke messages across the sky – but we have concerns about the impact on people and the countryside.

Results from a Department for Transport consultation on skywriting have been released, and the government response suggests that the 60-year ban on these messages in the sky is likely to be lifted.

The consultation looked into both skywriting (when a plane emits lines of smoke to ‘write’ across the sky) and skytyping (when several planes fly together and create shapes by releasing small smoke puffs). Both have been illegal since 1960, when they were banned because of concerns about safety and their use for political propaganda.

The Department for Transport reports that it has considered the consultation responses and plans to proceed to make these legal again. In response to this, our head of land use and planning, Matt Thomson, says:

‘We’re urging the government to rethink its decision to allow skywriting to return to our skies. Now more than ever, we’re all aware of the need for peace and tranquillity when spending time outside in the countryside. An hour each day in green spaces has been a haven for many of us during the coronavirus pandemic.

‘We’re so often inundated with advertising messages, and it’s essential for our wellbeing that we can escape this when we’re in the countryside. We’re urging ministers not to commercialise our rural landscapes. To do so would be to rob us of their regenerative and restorative benefits, so vital for our health now and in the long term.’

A view of a wide horizon with fields of crops and a cloudy sky