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Neath Port Talbot councillors back calls for restrictions on firework displays

Neath Port Talbot Council has become Wales’ first local authority to back a series of measures to mitigate the risks fireworks can pose to animals and their welfare.

Councillors unanimously backed noise limits and tougher restrictions on firework displays on Wednesday (27 November), to help ease difficulties for animals, and vulnerable people.

NPT’s move follows the launch of the RSPCA’s ‘Bang Out Of Order’ campaign; encouraging the responsible use of fireworks, and the adoption of tighter regulations concerning their use.

2,285 calls have been received by the RSPCA across England and Wales related to concerns about animal welfare and fireworks since 2014 – with 411 of these calls last year alone.

Fireworks can be very popular, particularly in the latter months of the calendar year – but the unpredictable nature of the loud noises and bright flashing lights can be a source of great difficulty for many animals.

The RSPCA has been calling on Councils to ensure more predictability around these stressful time periods, and more responsible use of fireworks, and NPT are Wales’ first to act. Rhondda Cynon Taf Councillors also took action – voting unanimously in favour of proposing a series of measures to cabinet later on Wednesday.

NPT Councillors agreed to require all fireworks displays on Council land, or which are subject to local authority consent, to be advertised in advance, so residents can take necessary precautions for their animals and vulnerable people.

Councillors also supported a public awareness campaign which would promote precautions to help animals, and resolved to write to the Welsh Government and the next UK Government – including urging the latter to limit the maximum noise level of fireworks to 90dB for those sold to the public for private displays.

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Local supplies across Neath and Port Talbot will also be encouraged to stock ‘quieter’ fireworks for public display.

RSPCA public affairs adviser Lewis Clark said: “This was a landmark moment at Neath Port Talbot Council, as members unanimously backed a series of measures related to fireworks which can make a real difference for animals.

“The RSPCA is inundated with calls each year about welfare concerns for animals connected to fireworks. But measures like those adopted by NPT Councillors can make a real difference.

“Preparedness is so important – and better advertising of displays and a public awareness campaign could make all the difference in ensuring people know what steps to take to keep pets and other animals safe, and when.

“By lobbying the Welsh and next UK governments, too, for action, we hope we can make Wales a safer place for animals when fireworks are being set off; encouraging responsible use, better information and the promotion of lower-noise alternatives.

“Sadly, we know many pets and other animals struggle with firework phobia – but the RSPCA website is full of advice to help their animals through firework season, including building a safe den, finding hiding places for cats or closing windows and curtains to help soundproof against the noise.”

A Neath Port Talbot Council spokesperson said: “It’s good to know we’re leading on this issue in Wales. The effect of firework noise on people, pets, wildlife and farm animals has been a growing concern for many years and we are sure our cross party motion will get backing from many people and other councils, organisations and authorities across Wales and the UK.”

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