Proposed licence for buying fireworks a ‘material change’, says Faculty

29 Apr

A MOVE by the Scottish Government to introduce a requirement for consumers to have a licence to buy certain categories of fireworks will need to be clearly communicated to the public, said the Faculty of Advocates.

The Faculty was responding to the Scottish Government’s consultation on the Fireworks and Pyrotechnic Articles (Scotland) Bill. The licence that the Bill proposes covers the purchase of category F2 and category F3 fireworks. The former are defined in the Bill as those which present a low hazard and low noise level and which are intended for outdoor use in confined areas. The latter are fireworks that present a medium hazard, a noise level that is not harmful to human health and which are intended for outdoor use in large open areas.

“The concept of needing a licence to buy something, as opposed to selling it (as with knife dealing) may be seen as something of an innovation in licensing law. For that reason, the Faculty considers that the Scottish Government will need to ensure that the public are properly informed as to the scope of the Bill, if it is indeed enacted in its current form, so as to ensure that the public are fully aware of this material change to what has been hitherto, an activity which many members of the public would regard as unremarkable,” said the Faculty.

In addition to this new fireworks licensing system, the Bill also introduces restrictions on the supply and use of fireworks and pyrotechnic articles and the creation of firework control zones. It also makes it a criminal offence to be in possession of a pyrotechnic article, including a firework, at a designated venue or event, or at public processions or a public assembly without the required licence.

In its response the Faculty noted that the overall policy objectives of the Bill are to reduce the burden on emergency services in preparing for and responding to firework-related incidents, to reduce firework-related harm and injury, to ensure fireworks are used safely by the general public, and to reduce the volume of fireworks being set off outside organised firework displays, and their associated noise and disturbance. 

“The Faculty does not hold a position on the policy or evidence which underlies the Bill. It notes that Scottish Government has expressed certain policy objectives in the Policy Memorandum and that it has secured evidence which it considers demonstrates, on ground of public safety, the need for greater control over the sale and use of fireworks and pyrotechnic articles.

“It is noted that a public consultation held in 2019 and related opinion poll showed strong support for measures.  It is noted that a review of the international scene was undertaken and that while the level of control was variable, it is evident that when viewed internationally, current law and practice in Scotland may have areas which require to be addressed.”

The Faculty’s full response can be accessed here.