It would seem that fireworks are soon to be a thing of the past with many in the private sector deciding on a different form of entertainment for New Year’s Eve.
Local governments have been leaning towards fireworks-free events in recent years and the Far North Coast will likely enjoy starry skies in the dawning minutes of 2020.
Last week Tweed Council voted 4–3 to ditch fireworks for this year’s event at least. The resolution pushed over the line by councillors Byrnes, Cherry, Cooper, and Milne, argues that the extreme fire threat currently occurring and predicted to be still in place at New Year’s Eve was enough for Council to refrain from holding their annual fireworks event at Jack Evans Boatharbour.
They also noted that Seagulls Club, Twin Towns Club as well as several other local government areas including the City of Gold Coast, Sydney City and Brisbane City have cancelled their fireworks events for New Year’s Eve 2019/2020.
Impact on animals significant
Tweed Mayor Katie Milne said she was eager to have council look at the impact of fireworks in the shire and investigate alternatives. ‘The impact on native and domestic animals is significant,’ says Cr Milne. ‘For example, dogs have three times greater sensitivity of hearing than humans do. In the Tweed we have one of the highest number of threatened species. There are bats, birds and other animals that are seriously disturbed by fireworks who leave their nests and then don’t come back to the roost due to the noise pollution.
Cr Milne said birds also get so scared that they often fly into trees or run onto roads and are killed.
‘We need to give non-human species more consideration.’
Byron Council says there will be no fireworks this year. In general, Byron Council is not a supporter of fireworks and people planning events involving fireworks need to obtain a licence from Safework NSW.
The only fireworks Lismore Council had planned were at the Carols in the Heart event, but they have since cancelled these fireworks owing to the drought and bushfire conditions. Additional activities and entertainment will be programmed to compensate.
Council says that there may be other events run by private companies in the region where fireworks are planned, but whether or not these go ahead is at the discretion of the event organisers.
Potential to cause short and long term stress
The Tweed resolution noted that fireworks have a significant potential to cause short and long term stress, disturbance and even death to both domestic and farm animals and to native wildlife and the Animal Liberation group has thrown its support behind council’s motion to review and consider the animal welfare and the environmental issues associated with fireworks.
Animal Liberation’s Chief Executive, Lynda Stoner said it’s very refreshing to see a local government council taking proactive steps to reduce harm and stress to non-human animals, and factor in genuine consideration of all those we share this planet with, through council business and decision making including, how public money is allocated.
‘Of course we support community coming together to celebrate and especially all our NSW communities who are doing it very tough with the extreme drought conditions and terrible bushfires, but we know it’s possible to celebrate and support each other in ways that do not harm our animal friends and environment, or pose any potential additional fire risks.
‘We commend council’s innovative approach with this fireworks review and hoped all Tweed shire councillors would support this motion, and that other NSW councils follow the proactive approach and leadership being taken by Tweed Council.’
Cr Milne says she hopes that everyone will seek out other ways to have fun at the turn of the year. ‘There is a risk of fire hazard from the fireworks. We have some very important native vegetation and bushland in areas like Fingal Head that need to be protected,’ she said. ‘We will be looking at solutions like silent fireworks, a laser light show and lantern parades as alternative options’.