The government need facts and figures before they take any action. Up to now there have been no official figures because no one is collecting and collating the information. This is an official RSPCA initiative to provide government with the information they need.
PLEASE USE IT
Although it may look like a one off survey it can be completed as many times as you need.
We understand that you may want to check it is bona fide before completing so you can find it on the RSPCA website.
Our 2020 petition to Limit the Sale and Use of Fireworks to Organisers of Licensed Displays Only is due to be debated this autumn. We have therefore decided not to write a new government petition this year. There are however, as always, other petitions running and we recommend that you sign them all. We have listed them for you on our website: https://fireworkabatement.wordpress.com/petitions-2/
The Scottish Government have launched a new consultation into the sale and use of fireworks. If you live in Scotland this is your chance to have your say. Scroll down the page to the box “have your say” and click on “begin consultation”.
The British Horse Society has released a new app that enables equestrians to quickly and easily submit details of incidents that have negatively affected their safety.
The free of charge new app, ‘Horse i’, has been specifically designed to empower equestrians to immediately report any incidents they encounter directly to the BHS via a simple, easy-to-use interface.
DOWNLOAD OUR NEW APP – HORSE i
What is an incident?
An incident is classed as an unplanned event that has resulted in a human or horse feeling unsafe (e.g. road rage), or that has the potential to cause injury (a near miss), or that has already caused injury. Equestrians can report problems with:
a road/off-road user
slippery road surfaces
low flying aircraft or nuisance drones
Reporting your incident
The app records details of the incident, including the location, date and time, any injuries sustained, vet treatment required, as well as if any other agencies are involved, such as the Police or Civil Aviation Authority. An incident report can be submitted via the time-saving new tool in less than three minutes, although there is also the facility for the user to take the time to add in any supporting detail if they wish.
The BHS hope that the app will equip and encourage many more equestrians to report incidents to the BHS, enabling the charity to use the data to support its campaigns to improve equestrian safety.
BHS Director of Safety Alan Hiscox says: “We know that only 1 in 10 people report incidents to us which is why we have produced this simple-to-use app, which enable equestrians to report any incident that encounter. Most people want to report an incident to the BHS as soon as it happens, so this app makes it much easier to log what’s happened to you and your horse the moment you return to the yard when the detail is still fresh in your mind. Increasing the number of incidents that are logged with the BHS is a key priority for us in order to create a safer environment for equestrians, as we can act more effectively with better data.”
‘Some’ say, our petitions have failed. ALL Firework Campaign petitions reached over 100,000 signatures. ALL Firework Campaign petitions have led to government debates, which in turn led to these actions by the Government and the ‘Firework Campaign’ giving evidence to …
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.