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Fireworks

I  certainly understand how fireworks displays can bother animals. As an owner of two (rather recalcitrant) horses ourselves, both my wife and I are hugely in favour of encouraging official, local displays, rather than a myriad of smaller displays in gardens.

While many people enjoy their use on special occasions, I know that others do not like fireworks. They can of course be very dangerous and I am glad the use and sale of them is controlled. While I think it should be a shame to introduce a ban on their use other than on certain dates, any events where fireworks are used should certainly be well planned and safety should be paramount.

You will be interested to know that the Police are able to issue penalty notices to persons aged 16 and over for a range of offences related to the misuse of fireworks. These include throwing fireworks, possession of a firework designated only for displays, possession by a person under 18 of an adult firework and breach of the fireworks curfew. This curfew applies every night from 11 pm to 7 am, with exceptions for the specific festivals of Bonfire Night, New Year’s Eve, Diwali and the Chinese New Year: these are all festivals where fireworks have traditionally been used in celebration. On those nights, the cut-off time is 1 am.

I am also pleased that suppliers who wish to sell fireworks outside the traditional periods must comply with stringent conditions before being granted a licence by their local licensing authority. This means the availability and use of fireworks outside the traditional periods has been greatly reduced.

Although I am not aware of any current plans to change these regulations, I would encourage anyone who is aware of, or disturbed by any breach of this law to notify police. Additionally, excessive noise from fireworks, or noise during the curfew period, can be considered a statutory nuisance and local authority environmental health officers have the power to investigate complaints of fireworks noise and act to prevent it where appropriate.

I do realise that fireworks can cause distress to pets, livestock and wildlife, and as you may be aware, this is one of the reasons that there is a noise level limit of 120 decibels on fireworks for home use. Organisations, including the RSPCA and the Blue Cross, have also published helpful guidance on making fireworks celebrations less frightening for household pets and other animals. I welcome these organisations’ work on this issue. More information and guidance on fireworks is available on the Health and Safety Executive’s website.