Plans announced by the Scottish Government to restrict the public’s use of fireworks will be considered by the Scottish Parliament’s Criminal Justice Committee.
A call for views launches today to gather views on the proposals from the public and stakeholders. The results of this work will be used to inform MSPs on the Committee as they consider whether the proposals should be changed in any way, and ultimately passed into law.
Plans set out by the Scottish Government would affect the categories of fireworks commonly bought by the public for use at home. Usually to mark cultural events, celebrations and milestones, such as Bonfire Night, Diwali, birthdays, New Year and Chinese New Year.
The Government says that these changes should reduce misuse of fireworks, as well as help those adversely affected by them, such as pet owners, and those with additional needs.
Under the proposed measures:
• The dates fireworks can be sold in shops would be limited to those periods around major events (amounting to a total of 37 days a year);
• Dates the public could legally use fireworks would be similarly restricted;
• Anyone using these types of fireworks would need special training, and a fireworks licence
• Councils could create “control zones” where most types of fireworks would not be allowed (even on private land);
• The police would have new powers to search for and seize fireworks.
Speaking as the call for views launched, Committee Convener, Audrey Nicoll MSP, said:
“We know that for many people and communities, fireworks are a dangerous nuisance – though we know some families enjoy them safely.
“As a Committee, we will be examining whether the Scottish Government’s plans strike the right balance, and are likely to be effective in reducing misuse of fireworks.
“To help us with this, we want to listen to everyone with views on this issue. We have online surveys running until 11 March.”
The surveys, and more information about the Bill, can be found at www.parliament.scot/fireworks-inquiry
The Scottish Government estimates approximately 175,000 people per annum purchase CAT F2 and CAT F3 fireworks for use in Scotland, which would be affected by the Bill.
There are four main designated categories of fireworks used in the UK, based on the net explosive content (NEC) of the product:
• Category F1 – fireworks which present a very low hazard and negligible noise level, and which are intended for use in confined areas, including fireworks for indoor use, and around domestic buildings (i.e. in a small garden). The Policy Memo cites examples of common types of CAT F1 products include small sparklers, ice fountains (small fireworks for indoor use, popularly used by bars, clubs and restaurants on cakes / drinks bottles) and party poppers.
You need to be aged 16 years or older to purchase5 CAT F1 fireworks. A person must stand at least 1 meter away when they are set off. Category F1 fireworks are not impacted by the Bill.
• Category F2 – fireworks which present a low hazard and low noise level, and which are intended for outdoor use in confined areas (i.e. garden fireworks). You need to be aged 18 years or older to purchase CAT F2. They have an NEC of up to 600g depending on their type, and a person must stand at least 8 meters away when they are set off.
The Policy Memo cites examples of common CAT F2 products include roman candles (up to 50g), rockets (up to 75g) and batteries (up to 500g) and combinations (up to 600g). The Bill will restrict the availability and use of these fireworks.
• Category F3 – fireworks which present a medium hazard, which are intended for outdoor use in large open areas and whose noise level is not harmful to human health (i.e. display fireworks for open areas such as fields). You need to be aged 18 or older to purchase CAT F3. They have an NEC up to 3000g and you must stand at least 25 meters away when they are set off.
The Policy Memo cites examples of common types of CAT F3 products include larger rockets (up to 200g), mines (up to 200g), batteries (up to 1000g) and combinations (up to 3000g). The Bill will restrict the availability and use of these fireworks.
• Category F4 – fireworks which present a high hazard, which are intended for use only by persons with specialist knowledge and whose noise level is not harmful to human health (i.e., professional fireworks for large open spaces). They are not available to members of the public and you can only purchase and use these if you have specialist training. The Bill will introduce some restrictions on the use of CAT F4 fireworks.
The Bill specifies that certain fireworks can only be supplied to, and used by, members of the public at certain times, including:
• Guy Fawkes Day
• Chinese New Year
(Use being limited to 7 April to 16 April, 27 October to 12 November, 26 December to 2 January, the 3 days immediately preceding the first day of Chinese New Year to the seventh day after the first day of Chinese New Year, the 3 days immediately preceding the first day of Diwali to the seventh day after the first day of Diwali.)
There are exemptions for organised public firework displays and professionally organised displays.
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