Luton MP calls for 'compassion and common sense' ahead of Friday's second reading of Noisy Fireworks Bill

"There is no respite, and this is felt especially by children, pet owners, and those with mental health concerns"

By Steve Sims
Thursday, 20th January 2022, 4:57 pm
Updated Thursday, 20th January 2022, 5:01 pm

Luton North MP Sarah Owen is continuing her efforts to reduce the harmful impact of fireworks through Parliamentary legislation after hundreds of constituents pleaded for help.

Ms Owen will present her Misuse of Fireworks Bill for a second reading in Parliament tomorrow (Friday, January 21) and is hopeful she will gain the support of Government Ministers.

The Labour MP is calling for any fireworks sold to have a volume limit of 90decibels, which is 30 decibels lower than the current limit of 120. She says tougher punitive measures are also needed to deter anti-social use of fireworks, including a £1,000 fine for use of any fireworks past the existing 11pm curfew.

Sarah Owen MP

In addition, the MP’s Bill calls for a review into the licencing of sellers of fireworks as well as events, to limit the reckless use of fireworks that may not meet regulations.

She is lobbying Government to consult with animal welfare charities, veterans’ charities and mental health charities on drawing up this legislation.

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In 2020 Owen won praise for her campaign from Dogs Trust after leading over two dozen MPs in calling for an urgent review of current regulations around the sale and use of fireworks. A 2018 Dog Trust survey of 2,000 members of the general public showed that: 89% agreed domestic pets can be distressed by fireworks; 79% said they keep their pets inside to limit distress caused by fireworks; and over 50% believed fireworks should be restricted to official displays only.

Fireworks problem - "There is no respite, and this is felt especially by children, pet owners, and those with mental health concerns"

Regarding the Bill reaching its second reading, a Dogs Trust spokesperson said: “We thank Sarah Owen MP for continuing to highlight the significant negative impact of fireworks on dog welfare. Dogs have approximately four times more sensitive hearing than humans, so the loud cracks and bangs of fireworks can often be a terrifying and confusing experience for them.

"Fireworks tend to be sudden, unpredictable and bright. This combination can be distressing and have a lasting impact on dogs. We welcome any action to reduce the harm fireworks cause to our four-legged friends.”

Cats Protection have reported similar problems, with 63% of cats being affected by fireworks according to their owners. This can cause chronic stress and even lead to the pets fleeing from their home and putting themselves in danger. Cats Protection support calls for restrictions on noise level of fireworks, limits to unplanned displays and a review on licencing.

Ms Owen MP said: “Fireworks can look beautiful as part of displays for national celebrations, but when deployed night after night from people’s back gardens they can cause untold distress. It’s all too easy to purchase fireworks all year round and cause grievance to local communities.

“In Luton North, it often feels like there are more nights with fireworks than without. There is no respite, and this is felt especially by children, pet owners, and those with mental health concerns, especially PTSD.

"I’ve heard from distressed parents in my constituency terrified about the health of their children – who lose sleep and develop anxiety around the noise. For veterans the noise can bring back traumatic memories of warfare and trigger a downward spiral.

"And any of us who have pets will know the shock and fear the sudden bursts of strange noise can cause them. It is not only domestic animals who are affected however – wildlife can be disturbed for miles around.

“That’s why it's so vital that the Government listens to the voices of not only my constituents, but charities representing the groups who are so damaged by misuse of fireworks. It’s time we brought compassion and common sense to this issue.

"Imposing a noise limit of 90decibels for all fireworks sold is an essential and reasonable first step in addressing this issue. There is simply no reason why fireworks need to be louder than a rock concert (which has a sound limit of 107 decibels).

"But we must also have an urgent review of the licensing given to sellers of fireworks, as well as licences given to major events, to make sure regulations are followed and we can bring an end to antisocial use of the most volatile fireworks.

"And with an increased minimum penalty of £1,000 for misuse of fireworks, I hope people with bad intentions would be deterred from their possession and use.

"I’m disappointed the Government has so far refused to act on this issue which has such a huge impact on the lives of people in Luton – but I will continue as long as it takes to achieve this change. I hope the Ministers will support the common sense measures in my Bill and continue to work with me going forward.”

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