New legislation to control the sale and use of fireworks will improve public safety and benefit communities for years to come.
The Fireworks and Pyrotechnic Articles (Scotland) Bill passed following a Scottish Parliament debate and introduces a fireworks licensing system, with mandatory safety training, for people wishing to purchase and use fireworks.
It also introduces powers for local authorities to designate firework control zones, restrictions on the supply and use of fireworks, and a new offence to criminalise the supply of fireworks and pyrotechnics to under-18s.
Being in possession of a firework or other pyrotechnic in a public place, or at certain places or events, without reasonable excuse also becomes an offence.
The passage of the Bill saw extensive consultation and stakeholder engagement with the legislation receiving strong backing from a coalition of professional medical bodies who described it as an “historic achievement” and “a major step forward for injury prevention in the community”.
Community Safety Minister Ash Regan said:
“This ground-breaking new legislation will improve the lives of people right across Scotland.
“This is not a ban on fireworks. We still want people to enjoy them safely, for example attending organised displays.
“But this vitally important step will make firework use more predictable and safer. The Bill will ensure appropriate action can be taken over the dangerous or disruptive use of fireworks, as well as reducing the misuse of pyrotechnic devices such as flares.
“It also demonstrates our absolute commitment to further improve safety for communities across Scotland.
“I am deeply grateful for valued support and consideration this Bill received from NHS staff, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, the Scottish SPCA and Police Scotland.”
Eleanor Robertson, Senior Clinical Research Fellow, Burns and Plastic Surgery at Glasgow’s Royal Infirmary said:
“Having witnessed the initial and lasting impacts of firework injuries, we welcome any move to protect people in Scotland from firework-related harm.
“Incidents involving fireworks and pyrotechnics can be devastating to those impacted and can alter someone’s quality of life permanently.”
Gilly Mendes Ferreira, head of innovation and strategic relations for the Scottish SPCA, said:
“The passing of this Bill will help to tackle the impact that private use in particular can have and help to keep communities across Scotland safe.
“We always ask that that the public enjoy fireworks responsibly and be mindful of the negative effect their misuse can have on people and animals.”
The Bill is the final legislative part of work towards improvements in firework safety which began in 2019, with an overwhelming response to a consultation on the use of fireworks, across over 16,000 responses, delivering a very clear message on the desire for change. This lead to the creation of the Fireworks Action Plan and the establishment of the Firework Review Group, chaired by Alasdair Hay. The group made a series of recommendations for legislative and non-legislative changes to reduce the harm and the disturbance from firework use.
A further consultation last year, ahead of the Bill’s introduction, further demonstrated strong desire for change. Analysis of the 2021 consultation responses showed 84% of respondents agreed a fireworks licensing system should be introduced in Scotland.
The Bill received backing from a coalition of professional medical bodies including the BMA, The Royal College of Ophthalmology, and The British Society for Surgery of the Hand, along with support from emergency services and animal charities.