Bonfire night is fast approaching – below is a briefing on fireworks in Edinburgh, and the Council’s approach to dealing with any issues which arise.
Fireworks and community safety
The City of Edinburgh Council (the Council) takes the misuse of fireworks extremely seriously and continues to work in partnership with the Scottish Government and other agencies to minimise the risk of harm to communities including animals. Your email has also been passed to our Communications Team to review the RSPCA toolkit to which you refer, and a summary of the fireworks landscape in Scotland and the Council’s community safety activity ongoing relating to fireworks and bonfires is provided below:
Legislation on the sale and storage of fireworks is reserved to the UK government while legislation covering the use of fireworks in Scotland is devolved to the Scottish Parliament. The Scottish Government has been looking at the impact of fireworks and bonfires in relation to its ambition for safer communities and in 2019, carried out a public consultation to gather views on the use and regulation of fireworks in Scotland. The Council’s response to that consultation is attached at Appendix 1.
Scottish Government’s Fireworks Review Group
Following the 2019 public consultation, the Scottish Government established a Fireworks Review Group bringing together key organisations with a direct interest in fireworks, including representatives from the fireworks industry, NHS, animal welfare, the emergency services and local government (including the Council), as well as community representatives. In November 2020, the Group produced a report with recommendations to Scottish Ministers on tightening devolved legislation on fireworks in Scotland.
The Group had concluded no single tightening of regulation would bring about the desired benefits and that any approach to changes in regulation should be set alongside other actions. These include, but are not limited to, awareness raising campaigns and the facilitation of organised public events so that the desired cultural change and the prevention of unwanted unintended consequences are achieved.
Taking forward the recommendations
A number of the recommendations from the Review Group have been taken forward in secondary legislation and changes implemented by these regulations, which came into force on 30 June 2021, included three new measures in relation to the way the general public can use and access fireworks as follows:
- restrict the times of day fireworks can be used by the general public to between 6pm and 11pm, with the exception of 5 November (when they can be used from 6pm until midnight), New Year’s Eve, the night of Chinese New Year and the night of Diwali (when they can be used from 6pm until 1am)
- restrict the times of day fireworks can be supplied to the general public to during the daytime hours of 7am and 6pm, alongside existing requirements on retailers around sale and storage licences
- limit the quantity of fireworks that can be supplied to the general public to 5kg at any one time
Further action on the sale and use of fireworks
The Scottish Government is looking to make additional changes to improve community safety relating to fireworks and between June 2021 and August 2021, conducted a follow up public consultation on the use and sale of fireworks in Scotland. The Council’s elected members submitted a response which is attached at Appendix 2.
Council community safety activity
Since 2018, the Council has led a citywide Community Improvement Partnership (CIP) to co-ordinate a consistent partnership response to resource planning for Bonfire Night with a focus on keeping people and animals safe. Membership of the CIP includes Police Scotland, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS), and representatives from the Council’s waste and street cleansing services, public safety, and the four local areas including housing.
Examples of the CIP’s planning and prevention work conducted annually are below:
- Staff conducting street patrols and inspection of fly-tipping hotspots for hazardous and other material so that where necessary, uplifts are arranged to maintain safety in public areas
- Community safety and housing staff visiting communal stairs and gardens to ensure areas are free from combustible material
- Liaison with housing associations to agree joint working protocols in areas of mixed tenure
- Engaging with young people and their parents through targeted joint partner visits to provide advice in relation to safety and antisocial behaviour during the bonfire/fireworks period
- Organising diversionary activities for young people during the fireworks/bonfire period to discourage antisocial behaviour
- Licensing and trading standards staff visiting licensed premises selling fireworks to check and advise on fireworks storage and sales
- SFRS delivering fireworks and bonfire educational awareness sessions in primary and secondary schools to advise young people on keeping safe
- Partner communications highlighting the importance of safety around fireworks and bonfires through social media and display posters, as well as delivering letters to residents in hotspot areas.
Appendix 1 – the Council’s response to the Scottish Government Consultation on Fireworks in Scotland (2019); consultation response representing trading standards, community safety, and public safety sectors, incorporating issues raised in motions and amendments from elected members.
Appendix 2 – elected members response to the Scottish Government Consultation on the Use and Sale of Fireworks in Scotland and tackling the misuse of pyrotechnics (2021).