We all know how it is practically impossible these days to do anything without being subjected to health & safety risk assessment.
Yet despite this it is still legal to sell explosives, purchase explosives (so long as you are over 18 years of age), ignite explosives just so long as they are called fireworks.
Fireworks are used by people throughout the year to mark different events. While they can bring much enjoyment to some people, they can cause significant problems and fear for other people and animals.
They can be a source of fear and distress for many animals (including our pet animals, farm livestock and wildlife). Animals affected, not only suffer psychological distress but can also cause themselves injuries – sometimes very serious ones – as they attempt to run away or hide from the noise created which has a far larger impact on their hearing than our own.
The unpredictable, loud and high intensity noises that many fireworks make can cause fear.
For example, studies have found fireworks to be the most common cause for fear responses in dogs, and it is estimated that 45 percent of dogs show signs of fear when they hear fireworks.
Many cats are also terrified of the sudden noise caused by fireworks.
With Diwali, bonfire night, October and November is a nightmare for animals and their owners, as you never know exactly when a firework is going to be set off. New Years Eve and endless reasons for parties using fireworks over the winter months. Limiting the number of events to which fireworks can be set off, will much improve the situation, as you can try to be prepared.
Debris produced by fireworks, if found on the ground, can also pose a hazard to animals, such as horses and farm livestock.
Although there is limited direct evidence, it is also likely that fireworks and their debris will cause disturbance to wildlife, and are likely to cause suffering or distress, depending on the distance from the explosive and the noise level.
The short-lived nature of firework noise can make it difficult for the police or local authority’s officers to pinpoint locations and take action.
The RSPCA believes that a licensing system would help with better enforcement of the law by allowing enforcement bodies to know where licensed events are being held.
Fireworks cause harm to people.
Just one accident to any child or adult by a firework could be prevented without the use of fireworks.
Professional organised displays significantly reduce the risk of harm to humans.
Carbon impact – climate change
My other concern is the carbon that is released by fireworks and bonfires over this period and also the use of fireworks to celebrate other occasions such as New Years, concerts etc.
The world has a carbon budget. Can we really justify spending part of that budget on entertainment, which already causes a great deal of distress and have such a far ranging impact on the carbon impact and overall climate change impact.
Imagine the amount of fireworks and unnecessary carbon footprint that are wasted worldwide in a year!
The RSPCA believes there is a real need to raise awareness amongst owners of animals about fireworks phobia.
This phobia can be treated (in dogs at least, not always successfully) in the long term but owners need to prepare themselves and their pets sooner, rather than just before the fireworks are let off. There is a need to raise awareness about the impact of fireworks on animals to the wider public to encourage them to be more considerate of those with pets, horses and livestock as well as wildlife.
The RSPCA believes the law is failing as it does not prevent or sufficiently reduce the risk of fireworks causing distress, injury or anxiety to people, as well as death, injury or distress to animals.
We believe that further research is needed to property understand the impact of noise on animals and a number of things can be done to improve the situation for animals and people by:
· Introducing a limit on the public use of fireworks on or close to specific dates and times
· Tightening restrictions on the sale of fireworks in the run up to bonfire night
· Reducing the maximum noise level of fireworks sold to the public, ensuring they are labelled accurately
· Licensing all public firework displays – and ensuring displays are better advertised to the public, especially those who have animals that could be affected.
(i) To require all public firework displays within the local authority boundaries to be advertised in advance of the event, allowing residents to take precautions for their animals and vulnerable people
(ii) To actively promote a public awareness campaign about the impact of fireworks on animal welfare and vulnerable people – including the precautions that can be taken to mitigate risks
(iii) To actively promote a public awareness campaign about the impact of fireworks on the declared climate emergency in Hinckley & Bosworth
(iv) To encourage local suppliers of fireworks to stock ‘quieter’ fireworks for public display
(v) To write to the UK Government urging them to introduce legislation to limit the maximum noise level of fireworks to 90dB for those sold to the public for private displays
(vi) To lobby government to limit the number of days and events to which fireworks can be set off.
Some further information about silent fireworks is attached.
Councillor Cartwright, seconded by Councillor M Mullaney, proposed a motion relating to reducing the harm from fireworks by requiring public firework displays to be advertised in advance, promoting a public awareness campaign about the impact of fireworks on animals and vulnerable people and the impact on the climate emergency, encouraging local suppliers to stock quieter fireworks, lobbying the government to introduce legislation to limit the noise levels and the number of days and events on which fireworks can be set off.
Upon being put to the vote, the motion was CARRIED and it was
(i) All public firework displays within the local authority boundaries be required to be advertised in advance of the event, allowing residents to take precautions for their animals and vulnerable people;
(ii) A public awareness campaign about the impact of fireworks on animal welfare and vulnerable people, including the precautions that can be taken to mitigate risks, be actively promoted;
(iii) A public awareness campaign about the impact of fireworks on the declared climate emergency in Hinckley & Bosworth be actively promoted;
(iv) Local suppliers of fireworks be encouraged to stock ‘quieter’ fireworks for public display
(v) A letter be written to the UK Government urging them to introduce legislation to limit the maximum noise level of fireworks to 90dB for those sold to the public for private displays
(vi) Government be lobbied to limit the number of days and events at which fireworks can be set off.