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Light pollution

Light pollution is probably best described as artificial light that is allowed to illuminate or pollute areas not intended to be lit.  Artificial light is essential in our modern society.  It has many uses including illumination of streets, roads and hazardous areas, security lighting, to increase the hours of usage for outdoor sports and recreation facilities and to enhance the appearance of buildings at night.
The increased use of lighting, however, can cause problems.  Light in the wrong place at the wrong time can be intrusive.  If a neighbour or business has installed lighting that is causing you problems when in use, such as excessively bright illumination of your living room or bedroom for example, the council will be able to help.

What can you do?

Approaching your neighbour and explaining the problem in a friendly way often resolves the situation.  Most neighbours will be much more considerate in the future when they realise they are causing a problem for their neighbours.  If the problem continues, keep a note of the dates and times of the light and contact the Environmental Protection team.   If this advisory approach fails, the officer will investigate the matter.

How do I take private action?

Under section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, any person may make a complaint directly to the magistrates' court if they feel aggrieved by a statutory nuisance.  It is advised that you contact a solicitor if you wish to pursue this course of action.

What can we do?

Initially we will advise your neighbour of the problem, with a request to look into it, and for them to make any necessary adjustments to prevent the problem re-occurring.  If the investigating officer agrees there is light nuisance, then a Notice will be served on the neighbour requiring action to be taken to fix the problem within a specified time scale.   If this action is not taken, then the council can prosecute.  The vast majority of problems of this type are, resolved informally.

How can artificial light nuisance be avoided?

The best method of dealing with light pollution is during the planning process stage.  This is an ideal time to influence the design and installation of lighting schemes.  However not all developments require planning permission.

Many cases of artificial light nuisance can be solved through simple engineering techniques and consideration of function and effect, including:

  • reducing the level of illumination to a minimum
  • use of a motion sensor
  • use of a timer to reduce the operation of the light
  • use of bulkhead or porch lights instead of security lights which have reduced glare and use less energy
  • vegetation may help screen the light at certain times of year provided the movement of the vegetation itself does not trigger the light

Last updated Monday, 25th January 2016

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