Date: 2 September 2022
The Animal Justice Party WA calls on the City of Cockburn to cease fireworks displays at Manning Park, and to implement less harmful and more sustainable entertainment at the Spring Fair in October 2022.
A fireworks display forms part of the program for the City of Cockburn’s Rotary Spring Fair, which takes place annually in October. The Fair is held in Manning Park which, as described on the City’s website: “… boasts significant flora and fauna within the lake and its surrounding wetland areas.”
The AJP advocates against fireworks displays primarily because of their impact on wildlife and domesticated animals, but also because of their impact on people and on the environment. The AJP believes that most people would be willing to forego their ten minutes of fireworks entertainment if they were aware of its negative impacts.
The negative impact of fireworks on domestic animals is well documented, particularly in the case of dogs. In addition, and of particular relevance for Manning Park, many species of wildlife are stressed by the noises associated with fireworks and will tend to flee. Birds and bats, either in flight or roosting, may be startled and injured. Traumatised nesting birds can abandon their nests causing the eggs or chicks to die. A 2021 desktop review and impact assessment (DRIA) of fireworks displays at the Manning Park Spring Fair, commissioned by the City, noted:
“While in most cases animals exhibit shivering or cowering, mainly stationary responses, some species exhibit flight responses which can lead to injury and death in extreme cases through blunt-force trauma.”
In addition, the smoke from fireworks can cause fear for wild animals who think that it indicates fire. Various species of birds raise young in Manning Park at the time that the Spring Fair takes place, and chicks being abandoned by their terrified parents is a significant risk.
Humans can also experience anxiety, sound and sensory disturbance. War veterans and anyone with PTSD may have symptoms triggered by fireworks. People on the autism spectrum can suffer due to atypical sensory processing.
With respect to the environment, the DRIA notes:
“Many different types of metals are included in fireworks to create colourful displays. The combustion of fireworks releases metals into the atmosphere resulting in elevated metal concentrations for up to several days which only decrease due to dissipation. Metals released from fireworks may be deposited in soils or waterbodies or breathed in by humans or fauna. Many of the metals used in fireworks have carcinogenic or toxic impacts on humans, flora and fauna.”
The AJP believes this alone warrants the immediate banning of fireworks, particularly in a sensitive reserve that should be providing a safe environment for (in the City’s words) “significant flora and fauna”.
The AJP acknowledges that the City has taken community concern seriously, and that in March 2021, having considered the DRIA, it resolved unanimously to “continue to investigate alternatives to City fireworks displays with the aim of phasing out City sponsored fireworks in the long term” . While this is encouraging, the AJP believes that there is sufficient risk to animals, to people and to the environment to warrant the immediate cessation of fireworks. Alternative forms of entertainment at events such as the Spring Fair might include laser light shows or drone displays, although any form of entertainment must be sensitively planned and managed to minimise impact on wildlife.
Concern from members of the general public about the negative impact of fireworks is growing Australia-wide. The AJP encourages the City of Cockburn to show leadership, creativity and community responsiveness by replacing the Spring Fair fireworks with less harmful and more sustainable entertainment in October 2022 and thereafter. This would enhance the City’s reputation as a positive and progressive role model in this space.