Agenda item



On a motion from Councillor Grant Johnson, seconded by Councillor Eleanor Jackson, it was unanimously




Council notes:


1.  Fireworks are used throughout the year to mark events such as Bonfire Night, New Year, Chinese New Year and Diwali. Whilst they can bring enjoyment to some people, they can also cause significant injury and fear for other people and animals.


2.  There is widespread public concern about the impact of fireworks on animals. The RSPCA receives hundreds of calls about this issue every year with November being the peak month for calls. The unpredictable, loud and high intensity noises made by many fireworks can cause psychological distress to animals and can lead to injuries as animals attempt to run or hide from the noise. Debris produced by fireworks can pose a hazard to animals if found on the land.


3.  Almost 4,500 people in England attended A&E with injuries from fireworks in 2017, double the number in 2009-10, with the number of life-changing injuries rising every year. Half of those seen in hospital were aged 18 or under and 80% were male.


4.  Fireworks release chemicals into the atmosphere, many of which are harmful to the environment. The colours in fireworks are created from metallic compounds which can have a negative impact on animal and human health. To produce the oxygen needed for an explosion, fireworks may contain oxidisers which dissolve in water contaminating rivers and lakes.


5.  Air quality is very adversely affected by fireworks. There is evidence of spikes in pollutants from fireworks, especially around weekends close to Bonfire Night. Dependent on other atmospheric conditions, these can reach harmful levels. Fewer fireworks were released this year due to Covid, and anecdotal evidence was that the air was less tainted than normal.


6.  The Fireworks Act 2003 and the Fireworks Regulations 2004 are the main pieces of legislation concerned with regulating firework use.


7.  The current maximum permitted noise level for fireworks for public sale is 120 decibels. This is the equivalent to a jet aircraft taking off.


8.  In 2018 a petition to ban the public sale of fireworks attracted more than 300,000 signatures. However, the Government said in August 2020 that it does not support a ban on the public buying and using fireworks. This followed a Petitions Committee inquiry in 2019, which concluded that a ban would be ineffective, damaging to the economy and to communities and could have unintended and counter-productive consequences for public safety – if the market were pushed underground, leading to members of the public buying fireworks from illegitimate or unsafe suppliers.


9.  In 2019 Sainsbury’s announced that it is to stop selling fireworks in all its stores after concerns over the distress they cause to pets, wildlife and elderly people; however, fireworks are widely and cheaply available from online retailers.


Council believes:


10.The public, animals and the environment can suffer harm from fireworks though they bring much enjoyment to many. Without a change to national legislation, the Council cannot require a licence for firework displays. Even with a change to legislation, we believe it would be disproportionate, unenforceable and an inefficient use of scarce resources to attempt to license all firework displays. We propose using education and social pressure to achieve the right balance.


Council agrees therefore:


11.To welcome the decision by Sainsbury’s to stop selling fireworks and to work with local business organisations to encourage other retailers to follow suit or to consider stocking only lower-decibel and eco-friendly fireworks.


12.To work with partners, including local educational establishments, on public education about the impact of fireworks and to continue to strongly encourage local residents to attend organised fireworks displays which reduce the noise and impact on residents and animals.


13.To write to the relevant minister and our local MPs expressing this Council’s support for: a reduction in the maximum permitted noise level of fireworks for private displays from 120 decibels to 90 decibels which is the equivalent of a car door slamming.


14.Ask our two MPs to work with us to help B&NES become an exemplar in holding eco-friendly, quiet, timely and predictable organised firework displays. Also to support our attempts to educate and inform about the harmful antisocial nature of random displays on air quality, animals, (both pets and livestock), and on the mental health of some residents.



1.  The sections of the resolutions above in bold were proposed as an amendment by Councillor Manda Rigby and accepted into the substantive motion by the mover and seconder.]

Supporting documents: