A North Wales local authority has become the sixth council in Wales to pass an RSPCA-backed motion aiming to mitigate the risks posed by fireworks to animals.
Gwynedd Council debated the motion on Thursday (3 December) – including support for advertising public displays in advance, a public awareness campaign, and urging local suppliers to stock less noisy fireworks. The local authority’s Communities Scrutiny Committee will now consider what steps the local authority will take next to implement these measures.
There was also support from Councillors for limiting the use of fireworks to being on or near certain days of the year – and what action can be taken on this will now also be considered by the Communities Scrutiny Committee.
Gwynedd Council will also write to the Welsh Government urging them to utilise any levers at their disposal to mitigate any negative impacts on animals and vulnerable people of the hosting of fireworks displays. They will also write to the UK Government asking them to introduce legislation to limit the maximum noise level of fireworks to 90 decibels for those sold to the public for private displays.
The motion was brought forward by Cllr Paul Rowlinson, and supported by Cllr Huw Wyn Jones. It received “overwhelming support” from Councillors – with 96 percent voting in favour. The local authority joins Neath Port Talbot, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Conwy, Caerphilly and Wrexham Councils in having taken action on this issue.
Developments in Gwynedd follow confirmation from the Welsh Government that they are seeking Great Britain-wide action on the issue of fireworks safety; and have requested a trilateral meeting with the Scottish Government and UK Government to progress this. It is a largely non-devolved issue with the existing legislation – the Fireworks Act 2003 and the Fireworks Regulations 2004 – introduced over 15 years ago.
New polling for the RSPCA suggests that 72 percent of people in Wales recognise that fireworks can negatively impact on animal welfare, and the charity receives approximately 400 calls annually in England and Wales relating to fireworks.
RSPCA public affairs adviser Lewis Clark said: “The RSPCA is delighted that Gwynedd Council have passed this motion – and with such overwhelming support of Councillors; making it Wales’ sixth local authority to act.
“We look forward to working closely with the local authority as they explore taking forward these proposals. Public awareness campaigns and better advertising of fireworks displays can help ensure preparedness in our communities – helping people take steps to keep their animals safe.
“It’s also great to hear that Councillors brought forward this RSPCA-backed motion after receiving letters from constituents – which is a real reminder as to how the public can give animals a voice by contacting their local representatives.
“Certainly, it’s been an excellent few weeks for the RSPCA fireworks campaign – with the Welsh Government also seeking a trilateral meeting with the UK Government and Scottish Government to push for further action, so there’s huge momentum behind this.
“Sadly, fireworks are extremely stressful and frightening for pets, farm animals and wildlife across Wales – but moments like this suggest we can find solutions to make fireworks safer for animals.”
Gwynedd Councillor Paul Rowlinson who brought the proposal before the full council in Gwynedd said: “I certainly don’t want to be a killjoy, but I am concerned about the fear and distress that fireworks can cause both to animals and vulnerable people.
“Loud, unexpected noises can affect our pets, farm animals and wildlife together with elderly people, children with autism and people suffering from PTSD.
“I am pleased that the council members have supported my calls to press the Welsh Government and the Westminster Government to regulate fireworks better, for example by limiting the maximum noise level allowed.
“The motion also requires the Council to review the measures it could put in place, for example to make people more aware of the impact fireworks have on animal welfare and the precautions they can take to mitigate these risks.”
Councillor Huw Wyn Jones added: “It is important we also encourage everyone to restrict fireworks to a period closer to the actual event in order to better protect animals and vulnerable people. Hearing the loud bangs in our communities for weeks before the 5 of November doesn’t help the situation.
“Here in Bangor, the impact is detrimental for the city, with animals and vulnerable people anxious and stressed for weeks around this period. No one wants to spoil the enjoyment, but we really do need better regulations to protect everyone.”
More information on the RSPCA’s campaign to make fireworks less frightening for animals can be found online.