MP urges a ceasefire on menace of fireworks noise

An SSPCA poster advertising its helpline.
An SSPCA poster advertising its helpline.

Something “needs to be done” about the havoc caused by fireworks - even although the control of their sale to anyone legally old enough to buy them is a UK reserved matter.

That is the strong conviction of East Falkirk and Linlithgow MP Martyn Day, who has detailed a harrowing catalogue of complaints about fireworks in a Commons debate on the issue.

“My office has been inundated since October” he said, adding it was no surprise that Falkirk and West Lothian were top for signatories on an e-petition calling for tighter controls.

Constituents have told him not only of animals panic-stricken by earsplitting noise but of people with post traumatic stress disorderband other mental health problems, who face an annual winter nightmare because of random noise from fireworks.

Mr Day said: “The effect on animals was the biggest area of concern raised by multiple constituents.

“Many sent me videos and stories of their dogs, cats and horses suffering from severe acoustic stress.

“Another constituent stated that her little girl woke up in floods of tears due to fireworks going off.

“Another advised she could feel the explosion from the fireworks through the floor of her house, and that domestic rubbish bins were targeted.

“The majority of firework use is, without any doubt, responsible — often by families in private gardens at a reasonably early hour of the evening around bonfire night, or to mark celebrations of family, cultural or religious events.

“Nobody wishes to remove people’s ability to enjoy fireworks, which is why I would prefer fireworks to be restricted to licensed displays and the general public perhaps restricted to purchases of silent fireworks”.

After three solid weeks of complaints he raised a written question in the House of Commons on Monday, November 5, after the heaviest weekend of fireworks,

“I asked whether the Government had plans to amend the regulations on the sale or use of fireworks to reduce the maximum decibel level of fireworks purchasable by the general public, and to encourage the use of low-noise fireworks.

“I fared no better than the petitioners or the Scottish Government at getting the answer I was after.

“I was advised: ‘There are already controls on noise levels for fireworks and it is an offence to supply fireworks exceeding 120 decibels to the public. There are no plans to amend the regulations to reduce this level.’

“My internet research, which I did for comparison purposes, shows that is higher than the 100 dB noise of a jet take-off measured at 305 metres, or what I am told is the average human pain threshold of 110 dB”.

Urging the UK Government seriously to reconsider the issue, he added: “It simply will not go away by itself, and doing nothing is not an option.

“My proposals on organised fireworks displays and the sale of silent fireworks to the general public would solve most of the noise problems, allow pet owners to make suitable arrangements for the times of organised displays, and let police and local authorities concentrate on the genuinely dangerous misuse of fireworks, their unlicensed sale and so on”.