Urgent warning for anyone planning fireworks this weekend as big mistake risks £5,000 fine

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MILLIONS will host Bonfire Night celebrations this weekend, but you could face a whopping £5,000 fine if you don’t follow certain rules.

So it’s important to familiarise yourself with the laws around who can buy fireworks, as well as when and where you can set them off.

You can only buy “adult” fireworks if you’re over 18, and they can only be bought from registered sellers on selected dates.

Fireworks are assigned different categories depending on their intended purpose, ranging from category F1 to F4 – you can usually find these categories printed on the packaging.

F1 fireworks are considered indoor fireworks and can be bought by anyone over the age of 16 – this includes sparklers and party poppers.

Fireworks in the F2 and F3 categories are intended for garden and display use respectively, and can only be bought by people over 18.

F4 fireworks are professional fireworks that can only be used by specialist companies.

When can I buy fireworks?

Registered sellers – such as supermarkets – can sell fireworks between October 15 and November 10, and again between December 26 and December 31.

They can also sell fireworks up to three days before Diwali and Chinese New Year.

Since the dates for the festivals of Diwali and Chinese New Year vary each year, the dates that fireworks can be sold adjust to suit this.

Outside these dates, you can only buy fireworks from specialist firework shops.

What time can I set off fireworks?

On Bonfire Night, November 5 – which falls on a Sunday this year – you can set off fireworks until midnight.

And, on New Year’s Eve, Diwali and Chinese New Year fireworks are allowed up until 1am.

Outside of these dates, you cannot set off fireworks between 11pm and 7am.

You can be fined up to £5,000 and imprisoned for up to six months for selling or using fireworks illegally.

You could also get an on-the-spot fine of £90 if you’re caught setting off fireworks at the wrong time.

Where can I use fireworks?

It is illegal to set off or throw fireworks in public places such as the street or parks – this includes sparklers.

Be mindful that it is also an offence to cast or light any fireworks from a private property into a public place such as a street or park.

The same penalties apply – a £90 on-the-spot fine, a maximum £5,000 fine or imprisonment.

If you believe somebody is letting fireworks off outside permitted times or in the street, you should the police on 101, or 999 if there is an emergency.

Can I let off fireworks on my rented property?

Tenancy agreements often prohibit bonfires or fireworks, so check your agreement or ask your landlord if you are unsure.

It is legal for a landlord to ban the use of fireworks in a tenancy agreement.

Your agreement may also state that you must not engage in antisocial behaviour or cause noise pollution, which may include letting off fireworks.

It is, therefore, a good idea to check with your landlord and neighbours if you plan to hold a fireworks display.

What about bonfires?

If you are planning on holding a bonfire, Grace Dutton, legal adviser at DAS Law, said it’s important to know what you’re burning.

She said: “Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, it is an offence to burn any substance that will release harmful fumes causing pollution to the environment or harm to human health.

“This include plastic, rubber or painted items.”

You also need to make sure that the fire is contained and doesn’t escape causing damage or injury to people.

It is also an offence if anyone on a public road is "injured, interrupted or endangered" by fire or smoke from your bonfire.

Can I prevent my neighbour from having a bonfire?

“It is unlikely that you would be able to prevent your neighbour from having a bonfire if they are doing so occasionally and are not burning hazardous material,” Grace said.

“If the neighbour is burning hazardous material or causing harm to human health, you can report this to your local council who will investigate and serve an abatement notice if the neighbour is
found to be causing a nuisance.”

What if a neighbour’s bonfire or fireworks cause damage to my property?

If property is damaged because a neighbour didn’t contain a fire, safely light fireworks, they could be liable for the damage caused to the fence.

Grace said: “If it is your neighbour’s fault, they should claim on their insurance, but you cannot insist they do so.

“However, when faced with a potential claim for damages the neighbour may choose to get their insurance company involved instead of dealing with it themselves.”

What to do if someone is setting them off in your street late at night

It is considered a criminal offence to set off fireworks in the street or other public places without permission, according to Grace.

You can contact the police if someone is breaking the law and this even includes sparklers.

Grace said: “f you want to set them off in a public place for events, such as for a street party, you will need to obtain express permission from the local authority.”

How to let off fireworks safely

The London Fire Brigade has the following advice on letting off fireworks safely:

  • Only buy fireworks which carry the CE mark, keep them in a closed box and use them one at a time
  • Read and follow the instructions on each firework using a torch if necessary
  • Light the firework at arm’s length with a taper (a long stick that’s often included in the box with fireworks) and stand well back
  • Keep naked flames, including cigarettes, away from fireworks
  • Never return to a firework once it has been lit
  • Don’t put fireworks in pockets and never throw them
  • Direct any rocket fireworks well away from spectators
  • Always keep a bucket of water or a hosepipe nearby in case of emergency

How to minimise the impact of fireworks on your neighbours