Fireworks and Noise
Fireworks are now used regularly
across the country to celebrate and they are not just for bonfire night but also
as part of public and private functions.
Fireworks are fun and can create
an effective display of light, but they can frighten people, pets and local
wildlife. After all, fireworks are explosives and for vulnerable people and
animals, the impact of the noise can also be serious. Not everyone appreciates
noise from fireworks, and this information looks at the impacts of fireworks and
how they can best be managed.
What is the problem-
While a fireworks display can add excitement to special
occasions, fireworks can frighten and disturb people and animals. Farm animals
have literally been scared to death; startled animals have been injured, killed
and caused accidents when bolting; and domestic animals can become panicked
leading to vicious and destructive behaviour.
Fireworks and the
The Fireworks Regulations 2004 places new restrictions on
the use and sale of fireworks. The noise from fireworks can be deemed a
statutory nuisance under Part III of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. This
Act allows South Bucks District Council to prevent or abate noise nuisances from
premises and land, which includes noise from fireworks.
A ‘nuisance in
law’ must be a continuous state of affairs. A firework event held maybe once a
year for an hour or so is not ongoing;
Fireworks are used to celebrate a
significant cultural or religious ceremony, this would be the view taken by any
court in relation to fireworks used during this period;
It would be
difficult to prove beyond all reasonable doubt (Nuisance law is criminal law)
that any one event or person is solely causing the noise problem when there may
be scores of similar events in the locality;
By virtue of the cost of
fireworks, few firework events last long enough to allow officers to reach them
before they (and the evidence would we need) are over.
A single fireworks
party would not be considered a noise nuisance, but if regular events take place
at the same property, action can be taken in the form of an abatement notice.
This notice will require the person causing the nuisance to stop and if the
person, without reasonable excuse, fails to comply with the notice, he or she is
guilty of an offence and can be prosecuted.
All fireworks have to comply
with product safety requirements and British Standard BS 7114 and must not
exceed 120 decibels. These regulations are enforced by trading standards officers
and suppliers/shopkeepers who breach theses regulations face a fine or up to 6
months in prison.
How to avoid firework frights and noise
If you are considering having fireworks at an event
and are concerned about disturbing neighbours, follow these simple guidelines to
reduce the risk of noise nuisance. Better still invite them along!
How can you report firework
Tell your neighbours when you are going to have a fireworks display - especially
the elderly and those who have children and pets. Make sure pets and other
animals are safely away from fireworks.
Consider the timing. If you
have a firework display, hold it on a Friday or Saturday night and make sure it
is not late at night and never after 11pm (unless it is within the
When purchasing fireworks, check they are suitable for
your size of garden and conform to British Standard BS7114. Avoid the large
explosive types, which are noisy purchase the ones that have more of a visual
appeal. Your supplier should be able to tell you what they are
Avoid letting off fireworks in unsuitable weather - when it
is still and misty, in strong winds or when air quality is poor. Let your
fireworks off in an open garden area - noise bounces off buildings and can
increase the noise level and smoke and pollution builds up in enclosed spaces as
If a neighbour complains about your fireworks that they are
disturbing them or their pets or livestock, please be considerate.
After your display, clear up firework fall out and dispose of it
Fireworks are exciting and fun and are enjoyed by
many. Fireworks don't have to be noisy to be fun. We should be able to enjoy
them in safety and without causing annoyance to our neighbours and their pets or
livestock or the local wildlife.
When informal action is not possible or fails, you should complain to your Local Authority and they will investigate your complaint.
Once you make a formal complaint, you will be asked to complete diary log sheets, which should provide accurate details of
A description of the noise and how it affects you in your home or garden
The dates the noise disturbs you
The times the noise starts and then stops.
The diary sheets should then be returned to us for analysis, and based on this evidence appropriate action will be taken. This may involve visits to your property to witness the disturbances you are experiencing.
If you are being disturbed by fireworks
and you can identify where they are being let off please you can either complete the
nuisance complaint online form
, or telephone Environmental
Health 01895837264 or email
All documents open in a new window.
Do's and Don'ts
Return to a firework once lit. It may go off in your face
Put fireworks in your pocket
Play with fireworks
Ever give sparklers to very young children
When can I use
Keep fireworks in a closed box
Follow the instructions carefully
Light the firework fuse at arms length
Stand well back
Keep pets indoors
Wear gloves when holding sparklers
Put spent sparklers in water
The Fireworks Regulations 2004 prohibit anyone under
18 from possessing fireworks, and anyone except professionals from possessing
display fireworks in a public place. These regulations also prohibit the use of
fireworks at night (11pm - 7am) in England and Wales, with extensions to the
curfew for the following festivals:
Until 01:00 on the night of the Chinese New Year
Until 01:00 on the night of Diwali
Until 01:00 on the night of New Years Eve
Until Midnight on 5 November
These regulations are enforced by the
Police. There is a penalty of up to £5,000 or 6 months in prison for breach of
curfew. The supply, purchase or possession of excessively loud fireworks over
120 decibels is also prohibited.
Under the Control of Explosives Regulations
1991, it is an offence to keep fireworks (except those for private use) on
premises that have not been registered for this purpose. Individuals can store
fireworks for private use for up to 14 days, provided they are kept in a safe
The throwing or setting off of fireworks in a highway or street is
an offence under the Explosives Act 1875. This is enforced by the police, with a
fine of up to £5,000.
It is an offence to cause unnecessary suffering to
animals under the Protection of Animals Act 1911. A penalty of up to £5,000
and/or 6 months in prison is enforceable by the police, trading standards or
For further information or to report a nuisance please contact the Environment
Unit directly on: