New regulations aiming to further restrict the sale and use of fireworks have been put forward by the Scottish Government.
Community safety minister Ash Denham has put them before the Scottish Parliament for MSPs to consider.
It comes as a consultant plastic surgeon said Bonfire Night last year had seen an increase in the number of people with firework-related injuries, particularly from deprived areas.
Organised firework celebrations were cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic, resulting in some families purchasing and setting off fireworks themselves.
Stuart Watson, clinical director of Canniesburn department of plastic surgery, said: “Bonfire Night 2020 saw an increase in the number and severity of firework-related injuries, with adults and children from areas of greater deprivation over-represented.
“We are hopeful that Government’s focus on this issue will result in significant reduction in physical and psychological harm from fireworks.”
He also said they were “encouraged that other devolved nations have expressed an interest ” in the work being done in Scotland and that this could lead to changes across the UK.
The new regulations would mean the public could only set off fireworks between 6pm and 11pm, with the exception of November 5, when they could be used between 6pm and midnight, and New Year’s Eve, the night of Chinese New Year, and the night of Diwali, when they could be used between 6pm and 1am.
It is also planned to limit the time of day when people can buy fireworks to between 7am and 6pm.
Ministers also propose a major reduction in the quantity of fireworks that can be sold to members of the general public, with the limit for purchase for people without an explosives licence being cut from 50kg to 5kg.
It is hoped the changes can come into force at the end of June 2021, well ahead of the main fireworks season in November.
Gilly Mendes Ferreira, of the Scottish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA), welcomed the new regulations, saying they would be a “positive step, not only for animal welfare, but for those who care for or work with animals”.
She added: “Tightening the times that fireworks can be used will allow owners to prepare and put safeguarding measures in place to protect their animals against the negative effects of fireworks.”
Ms Denham said: “The proposed changes to legislation I have put before Parliament mark an important milestone in our journey towards a significant shift in our relationship with fireworks.”
More than 16,400 people responded to a Scottish Government consultation on the issue in 2019, with the minister adding the results of this showed “strong public support for changing how fireworks are sold and used in Scotland”.
She stated: “The Scottish Government is determined to ensure fireworks are used safely, handled with care and do not cause harm, distress or serious injury; while recognising well-organised displays provide the opportunity to bring communities together.
“We know that legislation in and of itself is not enough to tackle the issue of fireworks misuse and will continue to work with stakeholders and partners to provide greater awareness raising, education and preventative activity across communities, including public awareness and safety campaigns ahead of bonfire night.”
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