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.

There are some legally exempt sources, which include:

  • airports
  • transport facilities
  • goods vehicle operators
  • defence facilities amongst others
  • commercial security lights
  • floodlighting of 'relevant' sports facilities (but not those on domestic properties)

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'. But, 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.

We are not able to take action over

  • light that is spilling onto someone's property
  • lights that can be seen in the distance causing a 'visual eyesore' or sky glow.

If you are being affected by artificial lights shining into your property, we suggest you speak to your neighbour. This is less likely to lead to a neighbourly dispute. If you prefer that we investigate the complaint we would investigate in the same manner as most statutory nuisances.

It is often easy for the owners to make adjustments to lights such as:

  • ┬áto angle them from neighbours windows
  • change the position of the lights
  • use a lower powered bulb
  • turn lights off between certain hours

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

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