As someone who hates the loud bang of fireworks, both because of the effect on people and animals, I was asked on the Phone-In on November 5th last year if I would support the introduction of “silent” fireworks which, if necessary, would be by laying a Requete.
The third caller supporting this also asked me to seek support from the States to use these type of fireworks on Liberation Day. I agreed and have been speaking to as many people as possible about how to go about this with the primary aim to avoid using up States’ time on a Requete. Whilst I had several Deputies (certainly enough for a Requete) and a fair number of members of the public confirm their support, I wanted to find out more first.
Having read the article about the Italian village who banned such fireworks, I was hopeful. “Silent” (or more appropriately “quiet”) fireworks, whilst widely available, could also be combined with music through the public address system (as was done for Last Night of the Proms). What I needed to understand was how easy it was to ensure quiet fireworks were used for Liberation Day and restrict the availability generally so they were the only type available for private functions.
During the last six months, I have unfortunately been sent round the houses. Firstly, I spoke to the then President of the Committee for Education, Sport and Culture to ask if we could put on “quiet” fireworks for Liberation Day. I also spoke to the then Harbour Master, who advised that he was responsible for deciding what fireworks is to be allowed at the harbour, and who was amenable to the idea subject to the agreement of others. Both directed me to organiser of the event but, during our telephone call, she advised it was not her decision but she would speak the supplier and revert. Despite reminders, I have only recently heard back from her to say that the fireworks were ordered last November!
Whilst this was most disappointing, it appears that little could have been done for this year. However, what I have discovered it that the contracts for putting on the display next year are being renegotiated and the new President of the Committee for Education, Sport and Culture has said he is keen to include the requirement for “quiet” fireworks.
That said, whilst I had hoped that Liberation Day would demonstrate the viability of this entertainment, I am also looking into the possibility of changing the appropriate legislation to replicate the Italian village’s approach. So far I understand it is more complicated than simply passing regulations (as per!) but the new Customs Law (necessary because of Brexit) will enable regulations to prevent the “loud” fireworks to be imported – if approved.
However, there may also be a way of changing the current Import (Control) Order, 2010 and I am grateful for Deputy Rob Prow and the Committee for Home Affairs confirming last week that, once I have the necessary description for limiting such import to quiet fireworks, then I can present a paper to them to see if they agree to preventing them coming into the Island in the first place.
I have also been talking to the Chief Health and Safety Officer for the Committee for the Environment and Infrastructure who has been fantastic in taking the time to explain all the issues surrounding this complicated subject. I am hoping that between us we can come up with the requisite wording for inclusion in the change to the Import Control Order
So to be able to inform the Committee for Education, Sport and Culture for the contract negotiation and the Committee for Home Affairs for possible changes to import control, I need to determine the precise description for the restriction on the types of fireworks we can import.
Once done, I will be meeting the importers to understand their views on the effect of such a restriction.
Whilst that was a conversation that I would have liked to have earlier, I have had to leave this until after Liberation Day. I hope that this year’s event will be a success for all concerned even if it could be the last time it ends with a (loud) bang.