Light nuisance

Obtrusive artificial light can be detrimental to health as well as being damaging to the environment, and is an increasingly recognised source of nuisance. Whilst the importance of artificial lighting for security and safety is recognised, it can significantly change the character of the locality.

Problems are generally associated with the levels of light produced, poor aiming of lights and excessive hours of use.

The council must take reasonable steps to investigate complaints of artificial light nuisance, and has powers to issue an abatement notice.  It is also possible for the persons aggrieved by the nuisance to take private action in a magistrate’s court.

Light on some premises are exempt, these are:

  • Airports
  • Harbours
  • Railway premises
  • Tramway premises
  • Bus stations and associated facilities
  • Public service vehicle operating centres
  • Lighthouses
  • Prisons
  • Premises occupied for defence purposes.
  • Street lights are not covered by nuisance legislation.

What should you do before you make a complaint?

If the problem is being caused by a neighbour perhaps approach the owner of the light, they may be unaware that they are causing a problem. Politely request that they re-angle or shade the light, they fit or reposition a passive infra-red sensor or use a lower power bulb. It might help if you can show the neighbour the effect of the light from your side of the fence.

Making a complaint about light nuisance

Currently there is little in the way of formal guidance as to what constitutes legally actionable light pollution.  We investigate complaints in much the same way that we investigate noise nuisance and in most cases we find an informal solution to the problem. We do however have the authority to issue an abatement notice when necessary.

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