Fireworks campaigners today handed in a petition backed by 358,000 people, calling on the government to restrict their use.
The RSPCA and FAB Firework Abatement UK today visited the Office for Product Safety and Standards in Birmingham with the petition which renews calls for an urgent review into the existing, outdated fireworks regulations in place.
The move comes following another busy bonfire period for the RSPCA, which saw more than 250 calls from concerned animal lovers.
The Office for Product Safety & Standards (OPSS) has recently told the RSPCA, in response to the campaign, that it “has no plans” to review the fourteen year old firework legislation, despite being formed 10 months ago, following two parliamentary debates about the negative impact of fireworks, specifically to ‘come forward with suggestions and advice to the UK Government’*.
Similar widespread concern in Scotland has led to the Scottish Government announcing a consultation early in 2019.
As well as one-third of a million people signing the petition, more than 7,000 people have responded to the RSPCA’s own challenge to contact the UK Government directly to request a change to firework regulations.
Speaking from Birmingham today, RSPCA campaign manager Holly Barber said: “We want to see the UK Government listening to people and strengthening the existing law and restricting the use of fireworks to traditional days of the year like bonfire night.
“This year - just like in previous years - our emergency line has been inundated with hundreds of calls from pet owners concerned about their terrified animals during the fireworks.
“This is totally avoidable, and the UK Government need to step up and act to prevent any further animal suffering.”
Julie Doorne from FAB Firework Abatement UK, who set up the petition, said: “Another year and more animals are needlessly suffering despite repeated calls to the UK Government to end this madness.
“This petition highlights the strength of feeling around this important issue and that there is widespread public support for regulations to be changed. Today we are in Birmingham to really drive our point home - we need restrictions around fireworks in place before we are in the same situation again next year.”
The RSPCA received 254 calls about fireworks in November this year with more expected to flood in over the New Year period.
The charity wants to restrict private use on all but four days of the year; November 5, New Year’s Eve, Chinese New Year and Diwali.
The charity would also like to see the maximum permitted noise level of fireworks for public sale reduced from 120 decibels - above the human pain threshold for noise - to 97 decibels. This is likely to further reduce the stress to animals.
There will be a Westminster Hall debate on Monday 26 November and it is hoped that MPs will echo the call for a urgent review into firework regulations**.
An RSPCA survey from February this year shows that 38% of dogs* are fearful of loud noises such as fireworks meaning thousands of animals’ lives are made a misery by fireworks every year.
To get involved with the campaign visit: www.rspca.org.uk/fireworksaction and join the online debate #FrightfulFireworks
The Change.org petition can be signed at: www.change.org/frightfulfireworks
*Fireworks debate. Westminster Hall. Hansard, 29 January 2018, 261WH.
**Fireworks debate. Westminster Hall. Monday 26 November at 4.30pm (Helen Jones MP of Warrington North).