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Photo: Golli.

New Restrictions on Fireworks Proposed

A ministerial committee appointed to review the negative impacts of pollution from fireworks has issued recommendations which would significantly curtail fireworks usage, RÚV reports. A joint statement issued by the committee emphasised the importance of taking practical measures to improve public health while also ensuring that Iceland’s Search and Rescue organisations remain well-funded (ICE-SAR currently earns half its annual revenue from the sale of fireworks).

Per the proposed regulations, it would only be permissible to set off fireworks in Iceland during the following windows: 4.00pm on New Year’s Eve to 2.00am on New Year’s Day; 4.00pm to 10.00pm on New Year’s Day; 4.00pm to 10.00pm on January 6th (Þrettándinn, otherwise known as Epiphany, or the last day of Christmas). Current law allows for the sale and use of fireworks from December 28 until January 6, during which time they are not permitted to be set off between midnight and 9.00am, except on New Year’s Eve.

The new recommendations would also allow for Þrettándinn celebrations to be postponed in the event of windy weather or heavy frost, although postponements beyond the following Sunday would not be allowed. Municipalities could also elect to hold Þrettándinn celebrations on Saturday or Sunday during the first week of January.

In total, the committee made seven recommendations on curtailing the use of fireworks:

  • Short-term measures put in place by local health committees related to fireworks pollution
  • Licences and supervision for fireworks displays
  • A more restrictive timeframe during which the use of fireworks is permitted
  • Fewer days on which fireworks are sold
  • Increased supervision and oversight on fireworks use
  • Penalties and fines related to misuse of fireworks
  • The appointment of a working group to discuss a new financing model for ICE-SAR rescue teams

Representatives of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry for the Environment and Natural Resources on the committee additionally proposed that public use of larger fireworks and firework “cakes” should be discontinued by 2030. They also proposed that people should only be allowed to set off fireworks in designated areas. The representative from the Ministry of Justice proposed more detailed measurements be taken on fireworks-generated pollution, via an increase in the number of pollution-measuring stations, an analysis of where pollution originates, and a ban imposed on the importation of bottle rockets.

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