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Fireworks, bonfires and the law

View profile for Michael Callaghan
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If you are considering an at-home fireworks display or perhaps a bonfire, you need to be sure that you do not fall foul of the law. Rules concerning fireworks and bonfires are designed to keep us all safe and to prevent nuisance in the neighbourhood. In this article, we run through some key questions about fireworks, bonfires and the law.

What is the law on buying fireworks?

In order to purchase fireworks in the UK, you must be aged over 18. You can only buy fireworks from a licensed seller. It is possible to buy fireworks at any time of year, but there are two types of fireworks licenses, one of which allows retailers to only sell fireworks at a certain time of year.

For example, most supermarkets only hold a short-term license and so may only sell fireworks for Halloween, Bonfire night and in some cases, Christmas and New Year.

Can I buy fireworks for a wedding?

As discussed above, fireworks are available for sale all year round, but you must find a seller with a long-term licence to buy fireworks outside of the typical season.

Can I set off fireworks in a local park?

No. If you purchase fireworks for personal use, you may only use them on your own private property, or a property where you have the consent of the owner. It is a criminal offence to set off fireworks in a public place and the penalties can be severe. However, if you wish to hold a public display, you can apply to your local authority for permission to do so.

Can I set off fireworks if I rent my property?

You can legally set off fireworks on private land, so if you rent your home and have a private garden, you can potentially set off fireworks. However, you may want to check with your landlord to see if there is anything that may prevent you from doing so contained in your lease.

Is there a curfew for setting off fireworks?

There is no curfew for setting off fireworks, but generally, they must be set off between 7 pm and 11 pm. The informal curfew is typically extended to 1 am at New Year, Lunar New Year and Diwali. However, there may be local bylaws in place so you should check with your local authority.

Can I do anything about nuisance fireworks?

If someone in your area is setting off fireworks late at night or excessively, you can contact the police.

Can I have a garden bonfire?

There are no laws that prevent you from having a bonfire in your garden, but it must not cause a nuisance to other people. The Environmental Protection Act 1990 sets out that a bonfire could cause a statutory nuisance where it occurs regularly and prevents a person from opening windows or enjoying their garden.

This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

 

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