Pollution - Light Pollution

Light Pollution: is it a statutory nuisance?

Village of Hallaton with Butter Cross

The Council can now assess whether lighting is a Statutory Nuisance under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005.

This act extends the Statutory Nuisance provisions of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, to cover artificial light emitted from premises (excluding transport facilities, freight depots, lighthouses, defence premises and prisons).

Light nuisance may be but is not necessarily the same as light pollution. Light nuisance is a source of light that in the opinion of a trained public health professional, who makes an assessment on a case by case basis, interferes with someone's use of their property, and / or is or may be prejudicial to someone's health.

Light pollution could be defined as any form of artificial light which shines outside the area it is intended to illuminate, including light that is reflected up into the night sky creating sky glow. Although light pollution might affect the aesthetic beauty of the night sky and interfere with astronomy, it is not necessarily a statutory nuisance.

To constitute a Statutory Nuisance light must be more than simply an annoyance. An example of a light which may constitute a Statutory Nuisance is where a light is spilling on to a property causing a neighbour's rooms to be lit up at night.

If Lighting does not constitute a Statutory Nuisance the Council have no powers to deal with it. 

Avoiding causing light Nuisance

Householders can avoid causing a light nuisance by making sure that they:

  • Do not fit unnecessary lights.
  • Do not use excessively bright lights; a 150 watt tungsten halogen lamp is quite adequate; 300 or 500 watt bulbs are too powerful for domestic security lighting.
  • Do not leave lights on when they are not needed.
  • Consider controlling lights with passive infra-red detectors, ensuring that they are correctly aligned and installed. For a porch light that is going to be left on all night, a 9 watt compact fluorescent lamp is normally adequate.
  • Re-angle or partially shade lights so that the light only falls on the area that needs to be illuminated.

Complaints about Light Nuisance

When a complaint about light nuisance is made, the Council will require the complainant to keep a record of when and how the light is effecting them.  The Council will also contact the owner/occupier of the site producing the light and inform them that a complaint has been received and ask them to ensure that the lighting system does not cause a nuisance to surrounding properties. 

The records kept by the complainant are used to make an initial assessment. If, following the initial assessment, it is felt that the light may constitute a Statutory Nuisance an Officer will organise to visit the site, witness the impact of the lighting and make an unbiased assessment.

If the impact of the lighting is judged to be sufficient to constitute a Statutory Nuisance the owner will be contacted and advised of the problem, most often the owner is willing to rectify the problem.  However, if the issue is not dealt with satisfactorily this may result in the serving of an Abatement Notice. Failure to comply with such a Notice will result in legal proceedings to enforce the notice.

To make a complaint about light pollution please contact the Council on 01858 828282.