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Light pollution


From April 2006 artificial lighting was included in the definition of Statutory Nuisance under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (provision added by the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005):

"Artificial light emitted from premises so as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance"

This will not apply to artificial light from-

  • an airport;
  • harbour premises;
  • railway premises;
  • tramway premises;
  • a bus station and any associated facilities;
  • a public service vehicle operating centre;
  • a goods vehicle operating centre;
  • a lighthouse;
  • a prison.

This nuisance is not about annoyance or aesthetics it is essentially about public health and whilst lights briefly turning on and off, triggered by cats or foxes, may be irritating to light sleeping people with thin curtains, they will rarely, if ever, be harmful.

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 occupiers are experiencing light pollution from their neighbours they should try approaching the owner of the offending light, politely requesting:

  • re-angling or partial shading of the light
  • fitting of a passive infra red sensor
  • using a lower power bulb
  • It might help if they can show the neighbour the effect of the light from "their side of the fence". They 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).

Should a statutory nuisance exist the Council can take legal proceedings against the offender

Advice on Installing Domestic Security Lighting
Please view the advice given by the Institution of Lighting Engineers (ILE) :

If you want advice or wish to make a complaint or would like further advice about a light nuisance matter, please contact the Private Sector Housing Team today on (0191) 433 3000, or contact us online now by completing the form below.

See also

  • Request this service - coming soon

Contact Us

Private Sector Housing
Development and Enterprise
Civic Centre

Phone: 0191 433 3000