Artificial light is essential and we all use it for many different
• To light streets and roads at night
• As a security measure to protect homes and businesses
• To increase the hours we can play sports outdoors
However, increased use of lighting has resulted in problems. Light
in the wrong place at thewrong time can be intrusive and there have
been more complaints about light pollution in recent years. So what
can you do to help reduce it and what can you do if you experience
What is light pollution?
Light pollution can be described as artificial light allowed to
illuminate, or pollute, areas not intended to be lit. It consists
of several elements:
• Light trespass – light spilling beyond the boundary of the
property on which a light is located, sometimes shining through
windows and curtains.
• Glare – the uncomfortable brightness of a light source when
viewed against a darker background.
• Sky glow – the pink or orange glow we see for miles around towns
and cities caused by a scattering of artificial light by airborne
dust and water droplets.
To see how much light pollution there is in your area visit the
web site www.cpre.org.uk and
view the light pollution maps.
Avoid causing light pollution
- 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 nine watt compact fluorescent lamp
is normally adequate
Action against light pollution
If you are experiencing light pollution from your neighbours try
approaching the owner of the offending light, politely
- re-angling or partial shading of the light
- fitting of a passive infra red sensor
- using a lower power bulb
It might help if you can show the neighbour the effect of the light
from "your side of the fence". You can also politely suggest to the
owner that they may be wasting money on excessive lighting.
Note: lights do not always deter criminals (the main insurers do
not offer any reductions in premiums for exterior lighting).
Advice on Installing Domestic Security Lighting
Please view the advice given by the Institution of Lighting
Engineers (ILE) on installing
Domestic Security Lighting (pdf document). Any electrical firm
should follow the ILE guidance when installing lighting and
especially security lighting.
For new developments, when environmental protection are
consulted by the Local Planning Authority, lighting is assessed
against the ILE guidance for the Reduction
of Light Pollution.
Light and Statutory Nuisance
Part 3 of the Environmental Protection Act
1990 requires us to take reasonable steps to investigate and, if
appropriate, to take formal action in the event of justified
complaints of statutory nuisance.
A statutory nuisance can include emissions of
light from e.g. security lights. The emissions must arise from
premises and must materially affect the use and enjoyment of other
premises. If satisfied that a complaint is justified an abatement
notice will be served on the person responsible. Failure to comply
with an abatement notice is an offence and legal proceedings may
Protect Rural England information on light pollution
The Institute of Lighting