Fireworks are a Nuisance: The Law Acknowledges it and Needs Updating

Photo by Kat Jayne from Pexels

If an establishment near you such as a hotel regularly lets off fireworks – say once or twice a month, you can complain to your local council that this constitutes a ‘Nuisance’ under the Environmental Protection Act 1990. And if deemed a nuisance, the hotel will need to start reducing their noise, often by using lower bang fireworks, that will help reduce the stress levels and improve the general health of local residents. And yet. Here we have it… If you have fireworks going off in your neighbourhood 3 or 4 nights a month or even week from different sources, the law does not protect you. It is the same impact – in fact it is worse – and the law acknowledges there is an impact. But it has not been updated in the last 30 years to accommodate the growth in cheap fireworks from China, the ease of accessibility to purchase them all year through online outlets and thereby the increase in fireworks being set off. The legislation in 2021 needs change. The Act recognises the stress and detrimental health impact of unwanted noise. But it needs updating. And some very important stats at the end of this blog reinforce this need for change.

On a website on environmental law – environmentlaw.org.uk, it states, “Generally, noise can be defined as any unwanted sound. Noise could occur unexpectedly, or be too loud or repetitive. At certain decibels, it can be hazardous to health, with low frequency noise as damaging as loud noise. Noise accounts for most of the complaints that local councils and the Environment Agency receive about environmental pollution, and is a major source of stress.” OK, so it acknowledges:

  • Noise is considered unwanted sound
  • At certain decibels and even low frequency, it can be hazardous to health
  • It is a major source of stress

It goes on to explain: “English private law defines a nuisance as “an unlawful interference with a person’s use or enjoyment of land or of some right over, or in connection, with it.” The process of determining what level of noise constitutes a nuisance can be quite subjective. For instance, the level of noise, its length and timing may be taken into consideration in ascertaining whether a nuisance has actually occurred…. Local authorities have a duty to deal with statutory nuisances under the Environmental Protection Act 1990. For noise to amount to a statutory nuisance, it must be “prejudicial to health or a nuisance” – see section 79(1)(g) and (ga) of the 1990 Act.”

Are fireworks interfering with your use of your land (home) or something in connection with it and ‘prejudicial to health or a nuisance’?

In all the blogs I have written, in the research, in speaking with people affected by fireworks, I would conclude that they are prejudicial to health or a nuisance. A lady whose husband trembles when fireworks go off, a man who was in an electrical explosion who is taken right back to his trauma because of fireworks. Many pet owners who can’t go out for fear of leaving anxious animals to the thunder of fireworks, fear when they can let them in their own garden or can’t go for walks in the dark in case some go off. People generally who are woken by fireworks – since they can go off until 11pm any day, or people who regularly say it is like living in a war zone. One friend’s dog is now too scared to go out to do ‘her business’ when it’s dark because fireworks scared her of the dark and so they regularly have accidents in the house. In all of these instances, isn’t that interfering with their enjoyment of life in their home and ‘land’? But we shouldn’t have to argue that, as the law knows it’s a problem – it acknowledges that such noise is a nuisance and that you should be allowed to enjoy your land and home – as per the example of a hotel regularly doing them who would be asked to stop if deemed a nuisance. So why are we all having to put up with it when individuals let them off regularly, amounting to the same or more amount of disturbance or ‘nuisance’ to us?

Nearly 300,000 people have signed the latest anti fireworks petition asking to restrict the use of fireworks. The FAB fireworks campaign has asked the general public to log fireworks they hear over the last 4 years. What is totally clear is that these are going off all year. It is a constant source of stress. The stats show that there is no ‘fireworks season’ for which people and animals can be prepared. They are logged throughout the year – 65% out of ‘season’. 99.5% of fireworks logged had no warning, so there is no way to prepare – for sufferers of PTSD, for animals, for people wanting to sleep. 32.5% are going off at times when most children and many adults are in bed – after 9pm. Only 0.1% of fireworks logged are known displays. Share these figures when you write to your MP.

All of this causes stress in multiple ways. And yet – the loophole in the legislation means that because it comes from different people, not one, you can’t complain and the law will not support you. That’s a mistake right? Or maybe it wasn’t back 30 years ago when fireworks were not let off even at new year very much. Nor was the internet around to sell fireworks all year.

This last week or so, I personally heard fireworks on Christmas eve (24th), Christmas day (25th), boxing day (26th), 30th Dec, 31st Dec, 1st and 2nd January. That’s a nuisance right? 7 out of 10 nights around Christmas and New Year when we want peace and quiet and to relax after what has for us all been a very stressful year. If that were one neighbour, or a hotel, I could ask the council to serve an abatement notice as it is stressful and damaging to mine and hundreds of others’ health.

People want change. The petition signatures and letters to MPs demonstrate that. They could tolerate it a few days of the year but every day? In the Netherlands they are allowed one day of the year. In the UK it’s 361 days, until 11pm , then 3 days until 1am and on 5th November until midnight. That constitutes a nuisance and the government needs to wake up and respect the wishes of the people, now that we are told we have more ‘independence’ and power as part of Brexit.

So we looked at the impact to life. How about the ‘level’ and regularity of noise?

Fireworks don’t just impact 3 or 4 houses, like noise from music can do – which can constitute a nuisance. They travel to 100s of houses, are incredibly loud, disturbing and intrusive. One person or family inconsiderately lets them off and everyone nearby – and not nearby – is subjected to listen to them, without any choice or warning. I heard today how someone’s neighbour who is a football fan, lets them off when his team wins… No warning, he just decides to create a huge noise that will massively disrupt neighbours a long way around. How can the government and MPs who just want this to go away and not do anything about it, justify that as not a nuisance? Are they getting so much in taxes on fireworks, that they don’t want to do anything? My MP argues people use them sensibly. Errr? Did you read the above? Do you listen to your constituents?

Summary. Fireworks in the UK are loud and travel a long way. They go off throughout the year. People have no warning and they detrimentally affect their enjoyment of their home and ‘land’.

It is time. Enough is enough. Change is needed.

Want to do more?

  • Write to your MP. They must hear from their constituents. If you get no reply, chase it. www.writetothem.com We live in a democracy and people have fought for such things. Use it. Feel free to use any of the information in this or other blogs on this page about the impacts of fireworks.
  • Sign the petition: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/319891
  • Log every single firework you hear. Any time of the year.
  • Write to your environmental health at your council. You could keep a copy of your logs of fireworks in a word doc or spreadsheet and share them with them. If you know others in your area, create a group and you all do the same, to prove the nuisance aspect. Some considerate councils are looking to restrict fireworks in some way.
Photo by David Garrison from Pexels

NEW and improved firework log

The Google firework log wasn’t cutting it so we made a new and improved version. It is very easy and straightforward. Please log all fireworks you hear from your home. We would like to get a picture of firework use across the country and all year. You do not have to log at the time of fireworks, see to your relatives and animals first. You can make a note and log them whenever you have time. Don’t forget though… Thank you for your support.

This is the link FIREWORK LOG

4th Government Firework Debate November 2nd 2020

On 2nd November 2020 (02-11-20) the UK Government will debate the 2019 firework petition which was stopped early for the General Election with 305,579 signatures. WRITE TO YOUR MP

The 2020 petition is fast approaching 50,000 please continue to sign and share it, click here

The petition and the government response is below. The Government in 2018 responded to our 2018 petition saying they would gather evidence for a ‘fact-based evidence base’. This is due to be released soon. We at FAB will be interested to see what ‘facts’ they have uncovered about the amount of anxiety and distress that is caused by random/unexpected fireworks. There is nowhere to report such distress and it is difficult to find anywhere to report a legal act .. Fireworks are legal for 16hrs of every day 365 days a year. It is this lax and outdated law that must change. It is not (as the Government says) an equitable balance between those that enjoy fireworks and those that don’t.

Please continue to write to your MPs and continue to sign and share the 2020 petition which we believe would make a massive difference to all affected by the overuse of fireworks. Read why we believe LICENSING WILL WORK

Ban fireworks for general sale to the public.

Every year more and more people, animals and wildlife get hurt by fireworks. It’s time something was fine to stop this. There are enough organised firework groups around for us to still enjoy fireworks safely so please help me stop the needless sale of them to the public!More details

The noise from fireworks causes a great amount of fear, stress and anxiety in wild animals. … Errant fireworks can also cause environmental damage though fires, and from the release of poisonous chemicals and particle-laden smoke, which is not just inhaled by wildlife, but contaminates the natural environment.
In England last year, 4,436 individuals attended A&E because of an injury caused by a firework – more than double the 2,141 in 2009/10.
With around 40% of the UKs dogs being scared.

This petition closed early because of a General Election Find out more on the Petitions Committee website

305,579 signatures

Show on a map

Parliament will debate this petition

Parliament will debate this petition on 2 November 2020.

You’ll be able to watch online on the UK Parliament YouTube channel.

Government responded

This response was given on 5 November 2019

The Government takes the matter of fireworks safety seriously. This includes protecting consumers and the public. Laws are in place to control firework availability and use.

The Government recognises that many people have strong feelings about fireworks, and the potential negative impact they can have on a community, for example, by causing distress to individuals or animals.
However, we believe that the majority of people who use fireworks do so appropriately and have a sensible and responsible attitude towards them. We consider it a minority of people who use fireworks in a dangerous, inconsiderate or anti-social manner.
The current legislative framework for fireworks aims to reduce the risks to people and disturbance to animals. Legislation ensures products being placed on the UK market meet essential safety requirements. It also controls the storage, sale and use of fireworks including where and when fireworks can be sold, when they can be set off and by whom, and sets maximum noise levels. For example, legislation allows retailers to sell consumer fireworks during the traditional firework periods of: 15th October to 10th November (inclusive); the 3 days prior to and including the first day of Chinese New Year and Diwali; and 26th December to New Year’s Eve (inclusive). But retailers may only supply fireworks outside these periods if they obtain a licence from their local authority.
In addition, enforcement mechanisms are in place to tackle those situations when fireworks are sold illegally or misused. There are a range of penalties for breaching legal requirements, including, in certain circumstances, imprisonment. The police and local authorities have powers to tackle anti-social behaviour, where it arises, caused by the misuse of fireworks.
The Government recognises the strength of feeling around the use and misuse of fireworks and has listened to the concerns raised in parliamentary debate and wider discussion. We receive representations from a wide range of stakeholders, including members of the public, organisations and charities, with wide-ranging views on what the issues are and what action they would like to see.
Following the Westminster Hall debate on 26 November 2018 regarding fireworks, the Minister with responsibility for fireworks policy and legislation in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Kelly Tolhurst MP, asked the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) to develop a fact-based evidence base on the key issues that had been raised. This includes looking for data around noise and disturbance, anti-social behaviour, non-compliance, environmental impact, and the impact on humans and animals. As part of this work we are considering the findings of the Scottish Government consultation on fireworks, which was published on 4th October. We will also consider the House of Commons Petitions Committee inquiry on fireworks once that has reported.
The aim of the evidence base is to build a full picture of the data around fireworks in order for government to identify whether there is a problem, and if so, what action – if any – is appropriate. This work will also help us identify trends across fireworks seasons and determine whether, there has (for example), been an increase in fireworks being set off or an increase in firework related injuries.
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Why Fireworks are Outdated in 2020 and it’s Time for Change

Over the years, the rights of those who are badly impacted by others’ actions have gradually improved. The rights of the majority are not more important than those of the minority. Mental health rights, disabilities rights, animal rights, equality rights. We still have a long way to go, but in today’s society versus 100 years ago, it is far more accepted that we quite rightly consider the needs of those who are partially sighted, who have dementia, who suffer from PTSD, animals’ rights who can’t speak for themselves. Even the rights of the environment, nature and its impact on our future. There are rules against anti-social behaviour that impacts others, against noise that is not good and often distressing for others. We are also aware of the costs of our emergency services.

And yet. Here we have it. We – in the UK – and not in many European countries I hasten to add – continue to allow people who want a ‘bit of fun’, to let off noisy, dangerous fireworks – whenever they like pretty much – apart from past someone’s considered late bedtime. Every single day of the year. So much so that many people who suffer from PTSD can be immensely distressed, taken back to their original trauma, trembling, sweating – just because someone has the right to let off a firework ANY DAY OF THE YEAR. No warning for the person who suffers from PTSD. Bang. Off it goes. From nowhere. How cruel, how unkind. You can read examples from people who contacted us regarding how it impacted them and their loved ones. In the past, shockingly, shellshock and any mental health issues were a stigma and people coming back from war did not get the support they deserved from society. That was the past. We know better now and should be showing more respect to those adversely affected by fireworks. There are alternative ways to ‘have fun’, so that these people can stay in peace.

The government argues there is enough legislation. Really?! They are not considering the rights or the voices of these people, animals and the environment. The government doesn’t want to deny the rights of people to let off a firework. Yet what about protecting the rights of not only PTSD sufferers, but many people with dementia, autism, hyperacusis (hearing sensitivity), people who want to enjoy a peaceful evening and a good night’s sleep, as well as animals, their owners and the environment?

Many partially sighted or blind people rely on their dogs to guide them and yet, how much do we consider their rights, by allowing these to go off at any time? Many of their dogs are badly impacted as this blog highlights – substantially affecting the ability of their owner to get around and live life normally.

We are now acutely aware of the climate crisis and 85% of us concerned about it. Yet we let these fireworks, with toxic fumes and gasses out into the air. The toxins and chemicals are damaging to the environment, the packaging lands somewhere, the chemicals go into rivers. You can smell the air after a firework has gone off. It’s not good. Your gut knows that is toxic. Imagine birds and other smaller animals, with far smaller lungs. There are also reports that show that people are affected by this polluted air.

Wildlife suffers. Swans in Prague were reported to have died from fireworks, so thankfully, fireworks were banned there. Our pets suffer. So many pet owners dread fireworks, as they have to stay in to protect their loved ones from the terrifying effect of fireworks. So much so that Classic FM does a programme on bonfire night, to play calming music for dogs. The trouble is we need it many more nights of the year. About half of pets are known to suffer because of them. And it affects the stress of their owners and their lives too. Animals’ hearing is more sensitive than humans and often the noise can be very painful for them, as many animal charities confirm and support the need for a change in the law.

If you look at the cost of fireworks to the emergency services, this article by the London Fire Brigade explains there were 900 callouts in London alone in 2019 fireworks season. “Last year, we attended more than 900 incidents over the Halloween and Bonfire night period – 25th October to 8th November 2018. There were 43 fires started by stray fireworks, including one which caused a fire that damaged the roof of a Hornsey pub. Bonfire night is traditionally one of the busiest nights for incidents no matter the day that it falls on. Last year London’s firefighters attended 117 separate incidents on November 5th.” The costs of this financially just for the fire callouts, not the damage? This article explains, “It is common for two fire engines to be sent to an emergency call, each carrying about five firefighters at a cost of about £100 per person and £500 per vehicle.” So that’s 5 firefighters at £100 each, making £500. So £1,000 per vehicle, including 5 firefighters and 2 vehicles needed. So £2,000 per callout that could have been going somewhere else. Multiply that by the 900 callouts in London is £1.8 million. In London alone! The cost around the country must be horrendous! And the impact to the NHS: “According to figures from NHS Digital, there were almost 2,000 occasions of people going to A&E linked to fireworks in 2018/19.” We need the NHS for other things at the moment and any time. We need the money to be spent elsewhere… we all know that.

I think you get the point. It’s inconsiderate. It’s outdated because it’s not fair to let off fireworks whenever you like, just because of some outdated notion that some people can make a noise at the expense and to the detriment of others – be they people, animals or the environment. There is a debate in parliament on 2nd November 2020. Write to your MP and tell them your views and ask them to be present at the debate.

Another firework debate!

WRITE TO YOUR MP PLEASE, tell them about debate and explain how you feel about fireworks.. .. writetothem.com

This petition 276425 is due to be debated on November 2nd 2020 in Westminster Hall, UK Parliament

Ban fireworks for general sale to the public.

Every year more and more people, animals and wildlife get hurt by fireworks. It’s time something was fine to stop this. There are enough organised firework groups around for us to still enjoy fireworks safely so please help me stop the needless sale of them to the public!More details

The noise from fireworks causes a great amount of fear, stress and anxiety in wild animals. … Errant fireworks can also cause environmental damage though fires, and from the release of poisonous chemicals and particle-laden smoke, which is not just inhaled by wildlife, but contaminates the natural environment.
In England last year, 4,436 individuals attended A&E because of an injury caused by a firework – more than double the 2,141 in 2009/10.
With around 40% of the UKs dogs being scared.

This petition closed early because of a General ElectionFind out more on the Petitions Committee website

305,579 signatures

Show on a map

Parliament will debate this petition

Parliament will debate this petition on 2 November 2020.

You’ll be able to watch online on the UK Parliament YouTube channel.

Government responded

This response was given on 5 November 2019

The Government takes the matter of fireworks safety seriously. This includes protecting consumers and the public. Laws are in place to control firework availability and use.

The Government recognises that many people have strong feelings about fireworks, and the potential negative impact they can have on a community, for example, by causing distress to individuals or animals.
However, we believe that the majority of people who use fireworks do so appropriately and have a sensible and responsible attitude towards them. We consider it a minority of people who use fireworks in a dangerous, inconsiderate or anti-social manner.
The current legislative framework for fireworks aims to reduce the risks to people and disturbance to animals. Legislation ensures products being placed on the UK market meet essential safety requirements. It also controls the storage, sale and use of fireworks including where and when fireworks can be sold, when they can be set off and by whom, and sets maximum noise levels. For example, legislation allows retailers to sell consumer fireworks during the traditional firework periods of: 15th October to 10th November (inclusive); the 3 days prior to and including the first day of Chinese New Year and Diwali; and 26th December to New Year’s Eve (inclusive). But retailers may only supply fireworks outside these periods if they obtain a licence from their local authority.
In addition, enforcement mechanisms are in place to tackle those situations when fireworks are sold illegally or misused. There are a range of penalties for breaching legal requirements, including, in certain circumstances, imprisonment. The police and local authorities have powers to tackle anti-social behaviour, where it arises, caused by the misuse of fireworks.
The Government recognises the strength of feeling around the use and misuse of fireworks and has listened to the concerns raised in parliamentary debate and wider discussion. We receive representations from a wide range of stakeholders, including members of the public, organisations and charities, with wide-ranging views on what the issues are and what action they would like to see.
Following the Westminster Hall debate on 26 November 2018 regarding fireworks, the Minister with responsibility for fireworks policy and legislation in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Kelly Tolhurst MP, asked the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) to develop a fact-based evidence base on the key issues that had been raised. This includes looking for data around noise and disturbance, anti-social behaviour, non-compliance, environmental impact, and the impact on humans and animals. As part of this work we are considering the findings of the Scottish Government consultation on fireworks, which was published on 4th October. We will also consider the House of Commons Petitions Committee inquiry on fireworks once that has reported.
The aim of the evidence base is to build a full picture of the data around fireworks in order for government to identify whether there is a problem, and if so, what action – if any – is appropriate. This work will also help us identify trends across fireworks seasons and determine whether, there has (for example), been an increase in fireworks being set off or an increase in firework related injuries.
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

How and why a firework licensing system could work

A government select committee, The Petitions Committee, carried out an extensive inquiry into fireworks, which ran from February to November 2019. The Committee asked for evidence on the balance and effectiveness of existing legislation, the role and safety of public and private displays, and the needs of particular groups (such as veterans and people with disabilities), and animals. They received written and oral evidence representing a range of stakeholders, including from members of the public, representative bodies, organisations and charities, all with varying views on fireworks.

The Committee’s final report, published on 5 November 2019, concluded that they could not support a ban on the public buying and using fireworks. Their reasoning for no further legislative action was varied.

The committee stated however, that the “inconsiderate and irresponsible” use of fireworks should be considered as socially unacceptable as drink-driving.

Considering this, FAB petitioned with a radical new approach which would overcome all the Government’s reasons not to change legislation.

2020 Petition

Limit the Sale and Use of Fireworks to Organisers of Licensed Displays Only

Current legislation allows for public use of fireworks 16 hours a day, every day, making it impossible for vulnerable groups to take precautions against the distress they can cause. Better enforcement of existing law is insufficient; limiting their sale & use to licensed displays only is necessary.

Restrictions on the sale & use of fireworks has huge public support and is backed by several human and animal charities. Limiting the sale & use of fireworks to displays only, by introducing licensing via local authorities, would help to protect vulnerable people and animals from the distress and anxiety caused by unexpected firework noise & pollution. Legislation that balances people’s desires for firework displays, and individual rights to not be distressed throughout the year, is needed now.

Click here to sign petition

HOW WE SEE THIS WORKING...

FAB firework campaign believe that ALL fireworks used in the UK should require the user to obtain a licence. This was also put forward by multiple MPs during the debate of petition number 276425 on 2nd November 2020.

The licence only needs to cost what it costs to process online. So a very small amount.

The licence will have to be shown and the number recorded when buying fireworks, from year round licensed firework retailers.  It has been suggested that supermarkets, corner shops etc stop selling them.

The process for obtaining a licence could be the same as alcohol/music licences. From the councils’ perspective, it would need to add a few more questions to the existing form.

The conditions of licence could include:

1. Insurance if in public space ie town fireworks, scouts, etc anywhere other than your own back garden.

2. Advertisements

3. A signed assurance to confirm the site intended to be used is big enough for fireworks and not close to a road/animal rescue/stables/field with animals etc.

THE BENEFITS which will counter the Committee’s reasoning for no further legislative action and the Government’s reply to the petition at 10,000 signatures:

1. There would be no effects on community groups and fundraising.

2. Firework sales will continue as before with no economic effect on the firework industry or its employees.

3. There will be no need for any concerns regarding black market sales, communities and cultural use.

Further benefits of a licensing system:

1.People who do not like fireworks for whatever reason will have advance notice and can take evasive action or prepare, likewise pet owners.

2. Unlike a ban, charities will be able to hold their events subject to the licensing conditions.

3. Fireworks could be tracked and traced if bar coded and recorded when sold.

4. One person would be held responsible should there be any infringement of the conditions.

5. Licences can be refused or revoked if necessary.

The firework industry is amongst the most highly regulated industries. However that is only true regarding manufacture/storage and sales. This new approach would also regulate the USE of fireworks.

Moreover,  it would allow firework use by those who enjoy them whilst allowing people and pet owners to prepare and not be taken by surprise.

AND FINALLY, from the Government reply.

The government has committed to take further action to promote the safe and considerate use of fireworks and the actions will include:

Developing a public awareness campaign on the safe use of fireworks;  

Public awareness campaigns do NOT cause changed behaviour in people, therefore some who enjoy fireworks will not consider their neighbours as some do not consider them now. Think seatbelts (had to be made law). Think guns/knives/acid/glue. No government awareness campaign works, so laws are needed.

Engaging with animal charities to further discuss their work related to animal welfare issues;

Animal charities cannot help the horses in the field scared by fireworks or dogs that slip their lead when random fireworks go off.

Engaging with Local Authorities to understand the issues they face with regard to fireworks;

Like many statutory agencies, Local Authorities will not have had many complaints regarding fireworks. One reason could be that there is no process by which to complain. Another reason could be that it is difficult to complain about something that is legal 16 hrs a day 365 days a year. Where would something legal be recorded?

Engaging with the fireworks industry to discuss any additional action they might take to address the concerns raised around fireworks packaging appealing to underage individuals.

These actions show that the Government has been listening to the concerns that have been raised about fireworks and that work is continuing.

We don’t believe the government has been listening. We don’t believe they understand about firework use at random times throughout the year. We don’t believe they have considered pet owners and people who are adversely affected by random fireworks.

So all in all, the Government reply was inadequate at best and based on incorrect supposition.

We shall carry on! Join or follow FAB, on Facebook on Twitter

LATEST PETITION from FAB

THE LONG AWAITED LATEST FIREWORK PETITION. from FAB

Please share to all your contacts.. if you can write something to put with it…like……. I know it is out of season but this will prove it is not a kneejerk reaction and we have problems all year with random fireworks. https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/319891

Limit the Sale and Use of Fireworks to Organisers of Licensed Displays Only

Current legislation allows for public use of fireworks 16 hours a day, every day, making it impossible for vulnerable groups to take precautions against the distress they can cause. Better enforcement of existing law is insufficient; limiting their sale & use to licensed displays only is necessary.

Restrictions on the sale & use of fireworks has huge public support and is backed by several human and animal charities. Limiting the sale & use of fireworks to displays only, by introducing licensing via local authorities, would help to protect vulnerable people and animals from the distress and anxiety caused by unexpected firework noise & pollution. Legislation that balances people’s desires for firework displays, and individual rights to not be distressed throughout the year, is needed now.Sign this petition

Show on a map

At 100,000 signatures, this petition will be considered for debate in Parliament

Remember to verify your signature in your emails.


We really need this on to blow their socks off so please do your best with this one.. It’s our best yet 😉

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/319891

New registration scheme may help.

A new registration scheme is being considered by North East Derbyshire District Council. In an attempt to regulate firework use they are asking the public to register if they are planning to use fireworks. It obviously won’t do anything to combat ‘misuse’, it might however help notify people and pet owners of the random and unexpected use by the public. Most community and local events are amply advertised for the revenue. So this a small step in the right direction. Please find time to thank the council for their forward thinking.

Their facebook posts says, “NEDDC is putting together plans to introduce a voluntary Bonfire and Firework Display Registration Scheme to combat the misuse of fireworks and safely regulate those attending bonfire events and wishing to let off fireworks in the District.” 

https://www.ne-derbyshire.gov.uk/news-and-media/latest-news/council-to-regulate-the-impact-of-fireworks-with-the-introduction-of-a-registration-scheme

Councils and MPs Pushing for Carbon Neutral, we Salute Thee. Please Restrict Fireworks as Part of Environmental Changes

According to the BBC, “The UK is the first major nation to formally back a pledge to cut carbon emissions to practically zero in just over 30 years. As well as clearing the air of harmful fumes, the scheme – according to one expert on climate change – will also have surprising knock-on effects for the population as a whole.” That’s great but as we hear, it needs to be much faster than 30 years. And per a news report today, Finland has halved that. “Finland has pledged to be carbon-neutral by 2035 – that’s twice as fast as the UK government target. But to achieve this, it will have to make big changes..” As will we all. We need dramatic and rapid attitudinal and behavioural changes from individuals, government, local councils and business to save the planet.

On the news last weekend, it was even more encouraging to hear that many UK cities, such as Glasgow, Birmingham, Oxford and other councils are themselves pledging to be carbon neutral far sooner than the UK government target. Good on them! It does need to be now! As we have seen this week at the World Economic Forum and you can see the speech yourself at this link, where Prince Charles said, we need a “paradigm shift”. “We simply cannot waste any more time. The only limit is our willingness to act. And the time to act is now.” People of the world, we need to radically change the way we live and behave – we need to stop our lives of convenience and start one of consideration for the environment and wildlife. There is also the global summit in Glasgow, so the UK will be in the spotlight. Many by 2030 – so in 10 years and some by 2028. Great. Let’s support them! 

One easy change is to stop throwing gasses, metals and chemicals into the air. To help our environment and protect our wildlife from dying of fear, we can massively reduce the use of fireworks. Many countries allow them only one day a year and yet the UK – embarrassingly allows them every day of the year! Shame on us. As per a blog we wrote on the environmental impact of fireworks, as well as one on how detrimental they are to protecting our wildlife, “One way we can [help the environment] is by stopping the use of fireworks, whose metals, gunpowder, chemicals and packaging pollute and damage our environment.” 

Just a few days ago, the Guardian wrote about the pollution from the London fireworks. “For four hours, the air was filled with tiny particles of the metals that are used to make firework colours. These included barium, copper and strontium that produce white, green, blue and red colours, along with potassium and chloride that are used as firework propellants. Air pollution from northern France also reached the city later in the day.” What is that doing to our lungs – the trees – and our own lungs, those of animals, birds, what is going into the river and then the ocean…?

So many other countries have far tighter regulations on fireworks usage than the UK and allow them only rarely. In many European countries, they can only be used on one or two days of the year. In Germany for example, “Shops are only allowed to sell fireworks, rockets, wheels or bangers in the time period from Dec. 28 to 31…” In the Netherlands too, they are banned all year apart from in special cases. The only day they are allowed is on New Year’s eve – and then only from 6pm until 2am.

So why oh why, does the UK, who is apparently one of the nations trying to limit its environmental impact, allow them ON EVERY SINGLE DAY OF THE YEAR?! And without restriction?

Councils, government, please – you won’t be ruining people’s lives by reducing the amount they go off. And anyway, we are going to have to get used to far bigger changes to save the planet. People live quite happily in other countries without them! Fireworks are often shipped all the way over from China, the country with the highest carbon emissions. As per our blog and the Guardian article above, fireworks send toxins and metals into the environment. They scare birds, thousands of whom die by flying into stationary objects. We need to protect them. 

In this time of climate emergency, why not be like the Netherlands and ban them altogether, apart from rare circumstances? Or at least severely restrict them to a few days a year? Businesses will find other ways for people to have fun and fundraise! And one thing is for sure, we are going to have to make far bigger lifestyle changes than just stopping fireworks. And that’s the way competition and market forces work. It’s an easy step that doesn’t restrict our lives and that will improve the environment and the communities in which we live. 

We believe these may be some of the cities/councils going carbon neutral. Please write to your council and share this blog with them, particularly if they are one of those aiming to be carbon neutral – and if they aren’t why aren’t they. We are sure there are many more and would be happy to edit these as people find out more or less on this list. 

  • Nottingham
  • Bristol
  • Glasgow
  • City of York
  • Birmingham
  • Winchester – wants to look at how to reduce its carbon footprint
  • Exeter city
  • Manchester
  • Liverpool
  • Oxford City Council, Oxfordshire County Council, South Oxfordshire District Council
  • Edinburgh
  • Lambeth Council
  • Kensington & Chelsea

Other things you can do to help make a difference:

  • Share this blog in every group you are in on social media and in emails – particularly those not related to fireworks, to reach new audiences
  • There have been 3 debates and a Petitions Commitee inquiry which the UK government are expected to reply in 2020. Now is the time to write to your MP and ask them to push the government to take drastic action. Reduce the number of days to just a handful a year and ban the sale to the public.
  • Write to your councils asking them to change what they allow. You can use the RSPCA template to ask them to change which are allowed and share the blogs we have written
  • Ask your friends and neighbours not to let them off or if they insist, to at least use those with lower bang ratings – which are available among most fireworks sellers and those that do displays
  • Support petitions 
  • Record every firework you hear through the year. FAB are collating this information for your MP letters.
  • Read more blogs on the impacts of fireworks and share these too: Environmental impact, impact on wildlife, impact on war veterans and sufferers of PTSD and on assistance dogs

Let’s look forward to a world with cleaner air, less noise and more consideration for wildlife and our environment.

Images by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

Birds Die, Horses Panic, Wildlife Suffers. Humans Setting off Fireworks Terrify and Kill.

Often when I mention to people about the many groups that are negatively impacted by fireworks, I’ll say, “Imagine all the wild animals when fireworks go off. They have no shelter – horses, sheep, hedgehogs, birds…It must be terrifying for them when there is no natural sound like this – and they have no warning..” And so many people say, “I hadn’t thought of that.” 

Well here’s to get us all thinking about that. Often as humans, we focus on actions that impact humans. With fireworks, the government will say they are set at a safe decibel range (which incidentally does not seem to be agreed is safe by hearing charities) – but of course this is for humans. Not animals, with whom we share the planet – and are all part of our ecosystem.

Here’s the summary for those that won’t read on, but others please do: Thousands of birds have died from heart attacks or through panic and flying into things, when fireworks go off. Horses have bolted, some impaled. Hedgehogs been tied to fireworks and shot into the air. We are in a climate emergency where we have already lost 60% of the UK’s wildlife population. It’s not only humans on this planet. Take action – write to your MP and town councillors, tell people not to do them, sign every petition.

So, for everyone that continued, here is what you need to know..

Animals have a far higher hearing range. Their hearing is far more sensitive than ours. Dogs for example, can hear sounds 4 times farther away than we can and higher pitch sounds too. Birds can hear a wider range of sounds than humans and have better resolution than human hearing, so they hear much more detail and what is not loud to us can be loud and clear to them. Our beloved hedgehogs, who already are struggling at a tiny percentage of population compared to what they were, according to Louisiana State University, “Have a hearing frequency range between 250 and 45,000 Hz…it’s much higher than the human range of 23,000 Hz.” So all those sounds that are ‘OK’ to us (but are not really ok, if you read our other blogs regarding humans impacted), are that much worse, terrifying and unknown for animals. Fireworks aren’t natural. The only vaguely similar natural sound in the wild is thunder and that doesn’t go as high, as loud, nor like gunshots and everything else under the moon. How confusing would that be to you, if you were out in nature happily tucked up for the night, when something like that goes off??

We are in a climate emergency. According to the State of Nature Report, and a Guardian article in Oct 2019, about it, “Populations of the UK’s most important wildlife have plummeted by an average of 60% since 1970, according to the most comprehensive analysis to date…A quarter of UK mammals and nearly half of the birds assessed are at risk of extinction.” And apparently there are no signs of this getting better. Doesn’t this highlight that we humans need to protect the delicate habitat in which we live? Everything comes together – the different species need each other in the ecosystem. Stopping fireworks is one easy way!

So how are animals affected by fireworks – and particularly wildlife?

Let’s take a look at birds. Fireworks scare birds. Let’s not mess about with it. And particularly in winter, birds roost together on the cold nights. When fireworks go off they panic. Some research was done in the Netherlands on this and an article in Forbes refers to the impact on birds, of fireworks. “When a fireworks display occurs near a wild bird roost, the birds simultaneously explode into the night skies in utter panic, which can lead to huge numbers of deaths, usually because these birds either smash their skulls or break their necks as the result of flying into trees, fences, billboards, houses and other solid objects that they cannot see in the gloom and ensuing chaos. Probably the most infamous example of massive bird deaths after a fireworks display were the 5,000+ dead or dying red-winged blackbirds that rained down from the skies onto the small Arkansas town of Beebe in 2010, leading some residents to fear an impending apocalypse.” How dreadful. Half of birds are disappearing and we do this to them – and for no real benefit to us other than a few minutes’ ‘entertainment’? Aren’t their lives valuable, each and every one? We can find other ways to be entertained when lives are at risk. In Prague, they banned fireworks in the city centre, as swans were dying from heart attacks because of them. A friend from Prague said how awful it was to see birds lying dead on the ground in the morning after fireworks. 

A town in England – Bideford, after many complaints and petitions, did decide to change its plans for fireworks in order to protect roosts of starlings in 2019/2020. Good on you Bideford council. 

Horses are often very scared by fireworks and there are many examples of horses that have bolted and then been injured or worse, died because of fireworks. There was one example reported, just this last year at fireworks. The horse, Harry tried to bolt when it heard fireworks and impaled itself on the fence. A document on fireworks by the British Horse Society says, “Horses are flight animals and anything unexpected will startle them. The response will vary greatly according to the individual horse, but reactions can be extremely dramatic and potentially dangerous for the horse or anyone close by. [Fireworks] produce loud bangs, crackles, sudden strange lights and a burning smell.”

Apart from the sounds, in 2019, we saw some horrifying examples and images of hedgehogs being tied to fireworks and then set off. Disgusting. Fireworks containing gunpowder are a weapon. And in the wrong hands and the general public, can be used and abused very badly. In many countries around the world, they are only allowed on new year’s eve and only with tight regulations. Yet in the UK, they are allowed every night of the year, hounding our animals with terrifying sounds, smells and in some cases the parts of the fireworks coming down on them. It’s time to change the laws, limit the number of days they are allowed on, reduce the decibels of those that are let off and ban the sale to the public. It’s gone ridiculous now. Weddings, celebrations, showing off your money, letting off lights at Christmas, leaving the EU – any reason to let off a firework. It’s ridiculous. It’s selfish – for humans such as sufferers of PTSD, war veterans, those with hyperacusis, dementia and more – and for animals – pets and wildlife – and for the environment as we throw toxins into the air. 

OK humans. Want to be responsible for this planet? What can you do? 

  • Share this blog in every group you are in on social media and in emails – particularly those not related to fireworks, to reach new audiences
  • There have been 3 debates and a petitions inquiry and now the UK government is due to review what to do in 2020. Now is the time to write to your MP and ask them to push the government to take drastic action. Reduce the number of days to just a handful a year and ban the sale to the public.
  • Write to your councils asking them to change what they allow. As you can see in Bideford, they can do this. Push. You can use the RSPCA template to ask them to change which are allowed
  • Ask your friends and neighbours not to let them off or if they insist, to at least use those with lower bang ratings – which are available among most fireworks sellers and those that do displays
  • Support petitions 
  • Record every firework you hear through the year
  • Read more blogs on the impacts of fireworks and share these too: Environmental impact, impact on war veterans and sufferers of PTSD and on assistance dogs