Pollution control light pollution
Artificial light is essential and we all use it for many
different things including:
- to light streets and roads at night;
- as a security measure to protect homes and businesses; and
- to increase the hours we can play sports outdoors.
On this page;
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
- 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; and
- 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
for the Protection of Rural England website and view the
light pollution maps.
Lighting Design Problems
A light fitting will deliver light where it is needed, but will
potentially also give four areas of unwanted and wasted, light:
- spill light - falls outside the area where it is needed, it can
be avoided by pointing the light in the right direction;
- upward light - this is wasted light shining above a light
fitting, it is entirely avoidable by the correct use of the correct
light fitting. Direct the light downwards wherever possible (this
can also reduce glare);
- upward reflected light - this is unavoidable and dependant on
the reflectances of the surfaces below the light fitting, (dry
tarmac will commonly reflect 7%, grass about 20-25%). This is
another source of "sky glow". Remedies are to use only as much
light on the surface as is really needed and to try to select a
surface which minimises reflectance; and
- direct glare - from seeing the bright filament of an unshielded
light, troublesome and dangerous unshielded bright lighting. Direct
glare is more wasted light and can be a major problem.
So what can you do to help reduce it and
what can you do if you experience 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; and
- it might help if you can show the neighbour the effect of the
light from "your side of the fence".
Note: lights do not always deter criminals (the main insurers do
not offer any reductions in premiums for exterior lighting).
If the owner of the lighting is not willing to resolve the issue
or compromise to a level agreed by you both we can investigate the
situation.You will be required to keep information on:
- times of day the light is an issue;
- frequency; and
- the level of illumination.
This information along with the officer's evidence, will be used
to assess if the light is in fact a nuisance and if so request
action from the owner.
Advice on Installing Domestic Security
Please view the advice given by the Institution of Lighting
) on installing
Domestic Security Lighting. Any electrical firm should follow the
ILE guidance when installing lighting and especially security
For new developments, when Environmental Protection are
consulted by the Planning Department, 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
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
For further information or advice contact Health and Environment
on 01653 600666 ext. 256 or 257.