Post COP26, we Need to Live Alongside Nature, not Against it, yet we Continue to Pollute with Fireworks

This week has been a week when the future of humanity, wildlife and our planet has been discussed in relation to climate change – at the COP26 conference. Much has been said about the need to live together with our planet, not against it. In harmony with nature, not inconsiderate of it. And next Mon, 8th November 2021 – following yet another petition with hundreds of thousands of signatures by the public asking to amend the legislation around fireworks – the topic will be debated in parliament. But will government listen, or will they try for a 5th debate on the topic and after 6 petitions, each with over 100,000 signatures, to ignore the will of the people?

For those that won’t read the rest, the summary:

Fireworks release chemicals into the atmosphere. These fall into rivers, onto trees and the sounds scare and sometimes kill wildlife. We are talking about the future of our planet and we are still obsessed with ‘having a bit of fun’ at nature’s expense? Not only is the environment and wildlife impacted, but pets, people with PTSD, dementia, hyperacusis and plenty more people, including those who are fed up of hearing bangs from nowhere in the middle of a quiet night. They are also dangerous and can be used as weapons. They are outdated and their use should be restricted, as they are in many other countries. Write to your MP to make change happen. For those that will read the rest, read on.

We have written many blogs on the impacts to so many different aspects of our world – to the environment, to wildlife, to pets, to humans. Fireworks are outdated and a nuisance. And it’s time to limit the use of them. In our blog on the environmental impact of fireworks, we commented, “An article in BBC Science Focus says, “Though beautiful, fireworks pollute the atmosphere so may not be the most green choice of entertainment.” The article states, “Fireworks propel a cocktail of chemicals into the atmosphere, many of which can harm both people and the environment. The vivid colours in firework displays come from metallic compounds such as barium or aluminium that can have negative impacts on animal and human health.” So they impact not only the environment, but also wildlife and us. Isn’t it time to simply stop them or at least severely restrict them? There are plenty of other ways to enjoy oneself and in the UK particularly, it has become the norm that for any little celebration, people let these toxic chemicals off into the atmosphere – disturbing the local environment and its inhabitants – and to scare many with the noise. Countries like the Netherlands and Germany allow them on only one or two days of the year. Yet in the UK we allow them every day of the year. That’s not awfully globally considerate when tackling climate change. We should restrict the number of days allowed, along with who can access them.

We have also talked about the impact to wildlife in a blog, “Birds Die, Horses Panic, Wildlife Suffers. Humans Setting off Fireworks Terrify and Kill”. You can read the details and the background to the points, but in summary, “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.” You can take action – write to your MP and town councillors, tell people not to use them, sign every petition.

There is plenty of detail on the impact of fireworks to all these groups in our blogs. Fireworks are a nuisance and outdated. They are toxic and chemical based and do not act in harmony with our planet. They are harmful to wildlife, who we need to protect. They can scare and even kill pets, much to the distress of their owners and affecting their lives as they often need to stay in to support their pets. Furthermore, they wake and scare humans – particularly those with PTSD, dementia, hyperacusis, anxiety and more. We have heard from many veterans with PTSD, who may tremble, hide under a table and go into cold sweats, because the firework sounds and colours trigger their trauma and take them back to a terrible place. We honour them on the 11th November, just 6 days after fireworks night – when we thank them by bombarding with noises that make them suffer. What kind of society thinks that is OK? That the ‘fun’ of a few is acceptable while so many suffer – be that humans, animals or the planet?

If you agree, now is the time to take action. You need to write to your MP and tell them. Ask them to attend the fireworks debate on Mon 8th November 2021. Tell them your views and ask them, regardless of their own personal views, to reflect those. And to find a way to change the regulations around fireworks. Enough is enough. We need to live together with our planet, to save it – not constantly bombarding it with pointless chemicals and noise. It’s easy at http://www.writetothem.com Just enter your postcode, select your MP and write. We need as many people as possible to do this.

And please share this blog and ask others to do the same. We need your momentum as this may be the last chance for change.

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 5 debates, 6 petitions with over 100,000 signatures each, a Petitions Committee inquiry and the government needs to listen. 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 
  • 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, why fireworks are a nuisance and the law should change.

RSPCA Reporting Log

STOP PRESS: The RSPCA reporting log has gone live. Please use it to report any problems you have with fireworks/animals.

CLICK HERE TO REPORT

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.

From their main page https://www.rspca.org.uk/ go to the menu and select:

  • Get Involved
    • Campaign
      • Fireworks

Scroll down the page until you see the green box with “share your story”

Click on the “share your fireworks story” button to begin.

You can see the RSPCA privacy notice at the bottom of their page.

Government petitions

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/

Brilliant NEW app from BHS

All incidents involving horses INCLUDING FIREWORKS, can now be reported quickly and easily using the BHS app – Horse i. You will receive a confirmation email with a case number for every report.

APP Store LINK

Google Play LINK

The BHS launches a new app that enables equestrians to report their incidents

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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

download on the ios app store
google play app store

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
  • dogs
  • slippery road surfaces
  • low flying aircraft or nuisance drones
  • fireworks

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.

Equestrians who do not use smart phones can record incidents via our online form on our website.

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.”

Six petitions over 100,000 signatures

‘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 …

Full list of petitions

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?

Over 300,000 people signed the last 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 petitions: Click here for current petitions
  • Report: Click here to see how
  • Write to 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

Help record firework use in your local area

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.

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