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Light pollution

Light pollution is artificial light that is allowed to illuminate, or intrude upon, areas not intended to be lit.

Intrusive light

The intrusion of very bright or poorly directed lights on to neighbouring properties could affect the neighbour's right to enjoy their own property.  A typical example would be a misaligned security light shining into a bedroom window.

Incorrectly set lighting can also affect the appearance of buildings and impact the local wildlife.

Preventing light pollution

Before going to the expense and effort of installing lighting, ask yourself:

  • Is lighting necessary?
  • Could safety or security be achieved by other measures, such as screening off an area?
  • Do the lights have to be on all night? 
  • If lighting is the best option then only the right amount of light for the task should be installed.  Lighting will then only become a problem if it is poorly designed or incorrectly installed.

If lighting is necessary, please consider that:

  • Aa 150w lamp or 32w low energy bulb is adequate for domestic security lights. High power lamps create too much glare reducing security.  For an all-night porch light a 25w lamp or 5w low energy bulb is more than adequate in most situations.
  • Make sure that lights are correctly adjusted so that they only illuminate the surface intended and do not throw light onto neighbouring properties. Security lights should be correctly adjusted so that they only pick up movement of persons in the area intended and not beyond.

The Institution of Lighting Engineers (ILE) have also provided a useful Guide on how to reduce obstructive light.

Solving light pollution issues

Tackle the source

First, approach the owner of the lighting. Often the remedy is quite simple.  A minor adjustment may be all that is required, or maybe an agreement about when lights should be turned on or off.

Remember to be considerate in your own design and installation of lighting systems.

Making a complaint

If the owner of the lighting is unwilling to remedy the situation to your satisfaction you can make a complaint and an Environmental Health Officer will contact you.

Environmental Health complaints form

What happens after you complain

If after investigation, the Environmental Health Officer believes that the light is a nuisance, they will contact the owner of the lighting - informally at first but if this fails they can serve an Abatement Notice.