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Aberdeen fireworks shop owner claims new national restrictions will ‘cause someone to die’

Norman Donald from NJE Fireworks
Norman Donald from NJE Fireworks

An Aberdeen fireworks shop boss believes new laws restricting sales could backfire and cause deaths by driving the industry underground.

Norman Donald from NJE Fireworks on the city’s George Street reacted the day after MSPs signed into law new rules on the sale and use of pyrotechnics.

Already a strong critic, he now warns people will seek out fireworks on the black market, buy unsafe fireworks from abroad and pose a danger to life.

The new laws make it an offence to have a firework in a public place or supply a firework to anyone under the age of 18.

Councils will also be given the power to designate firework control zones, although some such as Highland Council say they are yet to make a decision.

Mr Donald said the legislation has “more holes than a sieve” and will not stop people misusing fireworks.

‘My big fear is it will cause someone to die’

Mr Donald said: “This bill doesn’t tackle the misuse of fireworks, which was the whole idea of making a change.

“I agree more should be done for those who misuse fireworks but this is just going to punish law abiding citizens who want to enjoy fireworks in their back garden.

“When you restrict anything it will go to a black market and then we will have unregulated and dangerous fireworks.

“My big fear there is it will cause someone to die.”

Norman Donald.
Norman Donald.

Mr Donald added it will be very easy for people in Scotland to travel south of the border to buy fireworks in England where they will not need a license, or to “easily” buy fireworks online from places like Germany and Poland.

He also warns the move will price those on lower incomes out of buying fireworks, and put too much pressure on couriers to check licenses and find appropriate places to store them when bought online.

Mr Donald also said the fireworks industry had penned a 10-point plan on the issue to the government, including proposals to introduce bigger sentences for those who misuse fireworks, but he said this had been ignored.

‘It will not be better for anyone’

Among supporters of the law, Animal rights campaigners across the country had been calling for the sale of fireworks to be controlled to stop “petrifying” cats, dogs and other animals.

They said many pets, wildlife and even some humans were being “scared to death” by fireworks.

Mr Donald said the new restrictions won’t do anything to sort this issue, as “plenty” of fireworks will still be set off.

Hogmanay fireworks in Inverness.
Hogmanay fireworks in Inverness.

He said: “I have seen people on social media saying it will be fantastic for their dog.

“But it will not be better for anyone because on there are still 37 days a year when you are allowed to set fireworks off around Bonfire Night and New Year.

“It will make no difference because there will still be plenty of fireworks going off.”

Legislation hailed as ‘ground-breaking’

In announcing the new “ground-breaking” legislation to restrict the sale and use of fireworks, the government’s community safety minister Ash Regan said it will improve people’s lives.

She said: “This is not a ban on fireworks.

“We still want people to enjoy them safely, for example attending organised displays.

“But this vitally important step will make firework use more predictable and safer.

“The bill will ensure appropriate action can be taken over the dangerous or disruptive use of fireworks, as well as reducing the misuse of pyrotechnic devices such as flares.”

The Scottish Government was approached to respond to Mr Donald’s claims.

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