Council to push for 'disruptive' fireworks to be reduced to bring peace and quiet to Edinburgh

Council leaders will decide how public fireworks display organisers have advertise their events to minimise disruption and encourage suppliers to stock “quieter” fireworks.

Monday, 25th November 2019, 7:21 pm
Updated Monday, 25th November 2019, 7:23 pm

Officials at Edinburgh City Council will plead with both the Scottish Government and UK Government to reduce permitted noise levels after a motion, brought forward by Green and SNP councillors, was agreed.

The council will also attempt to encourage local suppliers to stock “quieter” fireworks in order to improve “public safety” as part of an action plan to give more support to vulnerable people.

A Scottish Government consultation found that 71 per cent of people support tighter controls on the sale of fireworks.

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Public opinion about fireworks and their sale is changing. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Councillors agreed to note that fireworks “responsibly used in a community setting” are an expected part of civic events but recognised “the distress they can cause for vulnerable people, pets and wildlife”. They also agreed that if public displays were advertised in advance, “this would mitigate some of the negative impacts”.

The council will now appeal to Holyrood to require local authorities to set a maximum noise level for all licensed displays. The authority will also write to the UK Government “again” to call for the introduction of laws to reduce the limit for the maximum noise level of fireworks from 120dB to 90dB “for those sold to the public for private displays”.

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“I cared for my mother for many years and I used to dread December right through to January because she became more withdrawn and very more unable to really enjoy life because of the fact there was banging going around her area. It was so unpredictable that it destabilised her completely.

“I worked with Lothians and Fife Swan Study Group who work with the SSPCA, who do tremendous work at this time of year. I could tell you horror stories about swans that are severely injured because of the use of fireworks.”

Public awareness

Council officials have been asked to draw up a report to address how the authority can require all public fireworks displays to be publicly advertised in advance of the event and “actively promote a public awareness campaign” to highlight the impacts the issue can have on vulnerable people and animal welfare.

Green Cllr Alex Staniforth said: “Fireworks are, in my view, undoubtedly beautiful but we cannot ignore the fact that they are also very disruptive – both to wildlife and to people’s pets. They are also dangerous, particularly in the wrong hands.

“These motions seek to make sure that we can enjoy fireworks in a way that doesn’t disrupt our communities and put our communities in danger.

“There is a lot of support for this. It is only right that we address the dangers and disruptiveness of fireworks, while maintaining that they are beautiful and not banning them outright.”

SNP Cllr Derek Howie, who is registered blind and the council’s equalities champion, said he would prefer all private displays to be banned and all public events to require a licence.

He said: “It makes you consider how you are going about, especially the first fortnight of November.

“I think it’s probably impossible to regulate them completely. My personal preference is for fireworks to be restricted to public displays – for which licences would be required, and for private use to end. I’m realistic enough to know that that’s probably improbable in the near future.”