Skip to main content

Review the regulations and control of fireworks

Volume 652: debated on Monday 7 January 2019

The petition of residents of Linlithgow and East Falkirk,

Declares that the petitioners believe that the use of fireworks is increasing in terms of frequency and that the resultant nuisance of noise and perceived danger from explosions are growing with the ever increasing size and power of fireworks available within the UK; further that fireworks can cause severe distress to people suffering from PTSD or other mental health issues and to animals.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to review the existing legislation for the regulation and control of fireworks; further that consideration be given to legislating for a ban on private use and limited fireworks to licensed displays; and further that considerations be given to promoting the use of silent fireworks as an alternative

And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Martyn Day, Official Report, 20 November 2018; Vol. 649, c. 834.]


Observations from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Kelly Tolhurst):

The Government take the issue of public safety very seriously. The Government have recognised the strong feelings and concerns that many people have regarding fireworks. We want to reassure the petitioners that there is a comprehensive set of legislation in place to closely regulate the supply, storage, possession, use and misuse of fireworks to ensure public safety.

Together, the restrictions set out in the 2003 Fireworks Act, the Fireworks Regulations 2004 and the Pyrotechnic Articles (Safety) Regulations 2015, provide a regulatory framework that allows for the safe enjoyment of fireworks by the public while minimising the risk of fireworks harming individuals, property or animals. In addition, the availability of fireworks to the public is restricted by a licensing scheme for retailers which only allows for their sale without a licence during the traditional firework periods around 5 November, New Year’s Eve, Diwali and the Chinese New Year.

Local Authority Trading Standards have powers to take action against those who sell fireworks illegally, including those selling fireworks without an appropriate licence, or outside the normal selling period, or to underage people. This also includes the sale of illegally imported fireworks and internet sales.

We recognise that the noise from fireworks can be distressing to some, and so there is in place a noise level limit of 120 decibels on the fireworks that are available for consumer use, which has not been increased in recent years. Consumers can now also choose to buy from a wide range of low noise fireworks.

While noting that legislation is in place, the Government have listened to the concerns around the potential for distress to be caused by fireworks to individuals, as well as to livestock, pets and wildlife. The Office for Product Safety and Standards is working with industry, retailers and others to promote the safe and responsible use of fireworks through guidance and public education and to ensure that appropriate action is taken against those that break the rules. The Office’s recent campaign on firework safety reached over a million consumers.

Fireworks have played a part in the UK’s history, and have been used for celebrations by many of our cultures for many years. We recognise the enjoyment they bring to many people and the important role that they play in bringing communities together in celebration or remembrance. The Office of Product Safety and Standards has been asked to develop our evidence base on firework safety to ensure we have a thorough understanding of all the issues, but there are no plans for further regulation in this area at present.