While many people enjoy the use of fireworks on special occasions, I appreciate others do not like them and I have spoken to several constituents in Mid Sussex who have emphasised their frustrations about fireworks, which as well as being incredibly loud and can also be dangerous, which is why I am glad the use and sale of them is controlled.
Firework regulations allow fireworks for home use to be sold during the traditional firework periods of Bonfire Night, New Year’s Eve, Chinese New Year and Diwali. Suppliers who wish to sell fireworks outside the traditional periods must comply with stringent conditions before being granted a license by their local licensing authority. This means the availability and use of fireworks outside the traditional periods has been greatly reduced.
Regulations allow the general public to buy and use certain categories of fireworks for family use and for private firework displays. These are classified as F2 and F3 and are available for sale to people aged 18 and over. All fireworks on sale to the public are required to comply with essential safety requirements, set down in EU and UK law, which govern how they are made, tested and labelled.
Fireworks used for professionally-organised displays, classified as F4, are available for sale only to people who have undertaken an accredited course of training in pyrotechnics and who hold relevant professional insurance.
It is up to local councils to decide whether or not to put on public displays. These are covered by Health and Safety legislation which requires the display organisers to ensure the safety of the display operators, spectators and those in the near vicinity of the display site.
The Government has considered very closely the matter of a ban on the sale of fireworks to the general public. All the evidence, however, is that the majority of people who enjoy fireworks are prepared to use them sensibly and responsibly on specific occasions as a form of popular family entertainment. The Government therefore concluded fireworks should not be banned for sale to, or use by, the general public.
Although there is some use of fireworks outside the traditional periods, the majority of people who use fireworks do so at the appropriate times of year and have a sensible and responsible attitude towards them.
There is a comprehensive package of measures in the Firework Regulations 2004 which is designed to tackle the anti-social use of fireworks through the regulation of both use and supply. These include a number of prohibitions on the importation, sale, possession and use of fireworks late at night. The Regulations also prohibit the possession of adult fireworks in a public place by anyone under the age of 18 and the police have the powers to enforce this part of the Regulations.
In addition, there are measures in the Explosives Act 1875 which prohibit anyone from throwing fireworks in or into roads or public places. The police have the powers to enforce this section of the Act. Also, in the interests of consumer safety, the Pyrotechnic Articles (Safety) Regulations (2010) prohibit the sale of certain fireworks, place restrictions on those fireworks permitted to be sold and restrict their sale to persons over the age of 18.
While there are no plans at the moment to place further limitations on the use of fireworks, the Office for Product Safety and Standards has engaged with a wide range of views to develop an evidence base on the key issues that have been raised around fireworks including noise, as well as anti-social behaviour, non-compliance, environmental impact, and the impact on humans and animals. This work produces useful data on fireworks which can be used to identify if further action is necessary.