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Fireworks Dispensation

West Lothian Council operates a Firework Dispensation scheme which is administered by the Council's Licensing Team.

Fireworks displays and use of an adult firework during night hours

Under the pdf icon Fireworks (Scotland) Regulations 2004 [34kb] the use of an adult firework (as defined in the 2004 Regulations) between the hours of 11pm and 7am is prohibited.  Under the Fireworks Act 2003 any contravention of this prohibition is an offence, punishable on summary conviction to imprisonment or a fine or both. Breaches of this legislation should be reported to Police Scotland.

Exceptions to the above for certain nights

The above prohibition does not apply to permitted hours on permitted nights which are:

  • beginning at 11pm on the first day of Chinese New Year and ending at 1am the following day;
  • beginning at 11pm on 5 November and ending at midnight on 5 November;
  • beginning at 11pm on the day of Diwali and ending at 1am the following day; and
  • beginning at 11pm on 31 December and ending at 1am the following day.

The council as local authority may grant dispensation from the above prohibition.  The effect of dispensation is that it exempts the holder from the above prohibition and so permits them to use fireworks between the hours of 11pm and 7am e.g. as part of a night time fireworks display. 

Who can apply for dispensation

By law dispensation can only be given to any person who is:

  • employed by, or in business as, a professional organiser or operator of firework displays;
  • employed by a department of the Government of the United Kingdom or by the Scottish Executive or an agency of the Scottish Executive; or
  • employed by an establishment of the naval, military or air forces of the Crown;

to enable that person to use fireworks:

  • for the purposes of putting on a firework display for their employer or in the course of their business (as the case may be); or
  • at a national public celebration or a national commemorative event. 
When dispensation may be granted

For dispensation to be granted the council must be satisfied that:

 (a) there is no risk that use of fireworks in accordance with the dispensation will have any of the consequences mentioned in section 2(2) of the Fireworks Act 2003:

  • death of persons or injury, alarm, distress or anxiety to persons;
  • death of animals or injury or distress to animals; or
  • destruction of, or damage to, property);


(b) that the risk that use of fireworks in accordance with the dispensation will have any such consequences is the minimum that is compatible with their being used.

How to apply for dispensation

Please note that by law applications for dispensation must be received by the council not later than 6 weeks prior to the proposed fireworks display, national public celebration or national commemorative event.

If you want to apply for a dispensation you should contact the licensing team Licensing Services in order to obtain an application. You must submit the application form along with the required documents, details of these can be found in the guidance notes attached to the application.

Please note that there is no fee for the application.

Please note that the Licensing Team can provide general guidance on the scheme but cannot assist you to complete your application form or provide legal advice as to whether dispensation is required.  You should seek legal advice from a solicitor or advice centre if you are unsure as to whether you require dispensation.

Dispensation not effective unless notice of event given

Please also note that by law where dispensation is given it is not effective unless public notice has been given by you as the holder of the dispensation in a newspaper in accordance with Regulation 4(9) of the Fireworks (Scotland) Regulations 2004 no later than 7 days prior to the commencement of the event.  

Decisions regarding applications for dispensation

Applications which do not attract any adverse comments/objections are granted by the Chief Solicitor under delegated powers. All other applications require to be referred to the Licensing Committee for determination. You will be advised if your application is being referred to the Licensing Committee.  The Committee meets on a monthly basis.


Complaints about events which are not covered by a dispensation should be made to Police Scotland by calling 101.