What controls exist on use of fireworks?
The law relating to fireworks is changing with the Fireworks Act 2003 placing new restrictions on the use of fireworks.
There is no specific law to deal with fireworks and the noise they make. Before 11pm there are no controls on preventing the general public from carrying out a fireworks display as a general rule.
Statutory nuisance legislation is not applicable as:
- A firework event, held once a year for an hour or so, is not a continuous or ongoing noise nuisance;
- Fireworks are often used to celebrate cultural or religious ceremonies and this would be the view taken by any court in relation to fireworks used during such periods;
- It would be difficult to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that any one event or person is causing the noise problem when there may be other or similar events held locally;
- Perth and Kinross covers a large area with thousands of buildings and gardens, to pinpoint where the fireworks are coming from and identify the person responsible, is not possible.
Action could be taken under the new noise provisions (Part 5) of the Antisocial Behaviour (Scotland etc) Act 2004 if the fireworks display is being held within a domestic garden area, however it is unlikely that firework events will last long enough to allow the noise officer's to come out and witness them.
The Firework Regulations 2004
The Firework Regulations 2004 state that no person shall use an adult firework during night hours between 11pm to 7am except for permitted displays, displays for local authority's or national public celebration. Exceptions have been made for celebrating special occasions, these include:
- 11pm - 1am on Chinese New Year
- 11pm - 12am on 5th November
- 11pm - 1am on Diwali
- 11pm - 1am on New Years Eve
People who break this curfew could face fines of up to £5,000 or up to six months in prison.
If you wish to have a fireworks display after 11pm, then you must apply to the Council's Pollution Team. It should be noted that dispensations will only be given to someone who is employed by, or in business as, a professional organiser or operator of fireworks displays. The application must be made at least 6 weeks prior to the date of the proposed fireworks display. If a dispensation is granted a public notice must be published in a local newspaper at least 7 days before the event by the applicant. A dispensation for displays after midnight will not normally be granted. Tayside Police will receive a copy of any dispensation granted and it is their duty to ensure that any dispensation is complied with.
When making an application the following information is required:
- The name and address of the applicant
- A description of the proposed firework display (e.g. type of celebration event, etc.)
- Details of the fireworks that are to be used
- The proposed location of the event
- The proposed time, date and duration of the fireworks display.
Who to contact prior to having a fireworks display?
- Police: location of site, entrances and exits, crowd safety, public order, local traffic management and parking.
- Fire Authority: nearby buildings, fire fighting equipment, spectators' enclosure, marshalling of crowds and traffic, access for emergency vehicles.
- Local Authority: health and safety compliance, minimising noise and smoke nuisance.
- Trading Standards: arrangements for string fireworks, types of fireworks that you are allowed.
- Neighbours: courtesy - notify your immediate neighbours of date, time and duration of display especially if they are landowners with livestock which may be affected.
Be considerate, not everyone enjoys fireworks, some people and most animals can be seriously distressed by the loud explosions. Remember that you may only have a few fireworks, but so might others. Try to make sure that you finish using fireworks as early as possible in the evening, and certainly well before 11pm.