Environmental Protection - Light Pollution

Statutory Nuisance from Artificial Lights

Changes in legislation brought in by the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 mean that the definition of nuisance has now been extended to include light as a potential statutory nuisance.

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There are some legally exempt sources, which include airports, transport facilities, goods vehicle operators and defence facilities amongst others. The law also recognises the need for commercial security lights and floodlighting of 'relevant' sports facilities (but not those on domestic properties) and whilst the Council can investigate complaints against nuisance from these types of lighting, the operators of these facilities may have a defence in the law of 'best practicable means'. However, they are still expected to use artificial lighting responsibly and with consideration to local circumstances. Streetlights are not specifically exempt, but because they are not located on a 'premise' they do not fall within the scope of the law.

The Environmental Protection Team would investigate if the light being complained about amounts to a statutory nuisance by being prejudicial to health or a nuisance causing substantial interference with the enjoyment of a persons property.  The Team is not able to take action over light that is merely spilling onto someone's property or lights that can be seen in the distance causing a 'visual eyesore' or sky glow.

We would always recommend that if you are being directly affected by artificial lights shining into your property, that you speak directly to your neighbour if you are happy to do so - as this is less likely to lead to a neighbourly dispute.  Should you not be happy to do so, or wish for us to investigate the complaint, we would investigate in the same manner as most statutory nuisances.

It is often easy for the owners of the lights to adjust them to ensure that they are appropriately angled away from neighbours windows, changing the position of the lights, using a lower powered bulb, turning off between certain hours or other such alterations. 

For further information on light pollution visit the campaign for dark skies website.

For more information and advice on light pollution please contact us by using the contact details on this page.