British Pyrotechnists Association welcomes Minister’s response to concerns over new EU pyro directive

The British Pyrotechnists Association has welcomed a response from the Minister of State for Consumer Affairs following criticism of Government guidance issued in November 2012 on the Pyrotechnic Articles (Safety) Regulations 2010. The EU directive change would have been highly damaging and could have resulted in the closure of some UK fireworks businesses. The issue concerns the implementation of the Pyrotechnic Articles (Safety) Regulations 2010. Industry was not consulted on revised guidance that was issued in November 2012 which changed the timetable for implementation. The new timetable effectively abolished the transitional period (to 2017) from the British Standard regime to CE marking that had previously been agreed, rendering illegal millions of pounds worth of stock that was already being held in storage. This was done without consultation with industry and had the effect that large quantities of stock would be unsaleable in the UK or anywhere else in Europe, leaving many businesses facing going bust.

The Association wrote to Minister Jo Swinson MP requesting an urgent meeting to discuss concerns. Members of the industry also briefed a number of local MPs, including Dr Phillip Lee (Bracknell), Jonathan Djangoly (Huntingdon), Sir Bob Russell (Colchester) and Mark Spencer (Sherwood), who offered their support and together formed a delegation that met with the Minister on 13th February to highlight the plight of their constituents and fully explain the impact the change in guidance was having on industry. They stressed the urgency of the situation and the need for a swift solution as firework importers had found themselves in an impossible situation where they couldn’t place orders with China because as things stood those orders would be illegal as it is currently practically impossible to get product CE marked due to a lack of testing laboratories, and UK manufacturers had to freeze sales because it was practically impossible to get their product tested locally with no Notified Body currently in the UK.

In response, the Minister has agreed to meet with representatives from industry to look at the most effective and lawful way to address their concerns and to then pursue those concerns with the European Commission. The Minister has also stated that enforcement advice is being issued this week to Trading Standards officers such that Category 1-3 fireworks already in stock or imported in 2013 which meet the British Standard BS7114 can continue to be supplied, and that Category 1-3 fireworks imported in 2014 but which are not CE marked can also be supplied.

The Association looks forward to working with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and enforcers to ensure that the transition from the British Standard to new European CE marking takes place expeditiously but without unfair conditions being placed on the industry.