Thank you for contacting me about fireworks and the impact they have on animals.
My ministerial colleagues and I recognise that the majority of those who use fireworks do so in a responsible and safe manner. The Government supports the considerate use of fireworks and believes that the existing framework strikes the right balance between allowing individuals to enjoy fireworks while reducing the risks and disturbances to individuals, animals and property. While I appreciate your concerns, I understand that the Government does not have any plans to introduce new restrictions on the use of fireworks, or to reduce their maximum noise level.
To reduce disturbance to both animals and people, there is a noise level limit of 120 decibels on fireworks for home use. The Animal Welfare Act 2006 makes it an offence to cause unnecessary suffering to animals through the misuse of fireworks. They should not be set off near livestock or close to buildings that house livestock, or near to horses in fields. Anyone planning a firework display in rural areas should warn neighbouring farmers.
Further, I understand that retailers are restricted to selling consumer fireworks during a limited period around specific seasonal celebrations, and retailers may only supply fireworks outside these periods if they obtain a licence from their local licensing authority. Fireworks used for professionally organised displays are only available for sale to people who have undertaken an accredited course of training in pyrotechnics. Enforcement powers exist for local authorities to take action when fireworks are unsafe, sold illegally or misused. Local authorities and the police also have powers to tackle anti-social behaviour caused by the misuse of fireworks.
Finally, the Government published a statutory Code of Practice for the Welfare of Dogs, which advises dog owners to avoid exercising with dogs during times when fireworks could be let off. I understand that the Government has worked with animal welfare groups in previous fireworks seasons to promote safe and considerate use.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Craig Whittaker MP