Fireworks can cause injury and even death, frighten pets and wildlife, and are bad for the environment.
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Thursday 25th November 2021
There is a comprehensive regulatory framework in place that strikes the right balance allowing people to enjoy fireworks, whilst reducing risks and disturbances to people and animals.
There is a comprehensive regulatory framework already in place for fireworks that the Government believes strikes the right balance allowing people to enjoy fireworks, whilst reducing risks and disturbances to people and animals.
Existing legislation controls the sale, availability and use of fireworks. For example, there is an 11pm curfew in place for the use of fireworks, with later exceptions only for the traditional firework periods of November 5th, Diwali, New Year’s Eve, and the Chinese New Year. Using fireworks outside the curfew hours is a criminal offence enforced by the Police and can lead to imprisonment and a substantial fine. There is also a 120-decibel limit on the fireworks available to consumers.
Current legislation restricts retailers to only selling consumer fireworks during the seasonal celebrations as set out above. Retailers may only supply fireworks outside these traditional periods if they obtain a licence from their local licensing authority. Local Authority Trading Standards work with retailers to ensure fireworks sold are safe, and they have powers to enforce against those who place non-compliant fireworks on the market. Trading Standards (and local fire and rescue authorities in metropolitan counties) can also enforce against those selling fireworks without an appropriate licence, for example, outside the normal selling period.
Fireworks must also have safety warnings on the label, and this includes category of firework, instructions on safety distances and means of ignition.
The main environmental impact of Fireworks is the emission of particulates. Fireworks events are normally short-lived and localised events, so whilst there are likely to be localised spikes around these events for short periods (hours) which may lead to exceedances of the 24-hour air quality objective for PM10, (Air Quality Standards Regulations 2010) these high concentrations will be short lived and not impact the annual mean objective. Short-term concentrations increases from firework displays can be amplified due to the weather conditions that may affect the dispersion of pollutants.
The Air Pollution in the UK report provides an annual assessment of air quality in the UK including an assessment of the impact of fireworks and bonfire night. The most recent report, published in 2020, can be found through the following URL: https://uk-air.defra.gov.uk/library/annualreport/viewonline?year=2020_issue_1#report_pdf.
The Government has no current plans to place further restrictions on the sale of fireworks to the public, but we continue to monitor the situation. We have been carrying out an programme of work on fireworks, in response to concerns raised by the public. This has included:
- Commissioning research by Ipsos Mori that provided evidence on consumer attitudes towards, and behaviours around, using fireworks in the UK. The key findings have informed our public awareness campaigns and support the need to educate consumers on fireworks use. The report can be viewed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/consumer-behaviours-and-attitudes-to-fireworks-in-the-uk.
- Commissioning noise research to test the decibel level of commonly used fireworks, in response to issues raised around noise and disturbance. The objective of the testing work is to help us understand the decibel level associated with a range of fireworks and whether they are compliant with the regulations. The results of the testing will be available in due course.
- Engaging with Local Authorities and animal welfare organisations to better understand what specific issues they face.
- Engaging with the fireworks industry to consider what action they can take to promote consumer safety.
- Developing an annual public awareness campaign, working in partnership with a range of stakeholders, to promote the safe and considerate use of fireworks.