Section 102 of the Clean Neighbourhoods Act 2005 amended the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to include a new form of legal nuisance namely "artificial light emitted from premises so as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance". This means light that affects the normal use of a person’s property may be classed as a statutory nuisance.
The most common complaints relate to light from domestic and commercial security lights and light from sports facilities, but some complaints relate to domestic and commercial decorative lighting.
There are exemptions where lighting is required for reasons of preventing crime and disorder or for safety, namely:
The legislation cannot be applied to streetlights as a light nuisance has to be from light on a premises, and streetlights are not associated with a premises.
There is also a defence for all trade, industrial, business or outdoor sports facilities that the “best practicable means” to prevent light pollution is being taken.
No. Light pollution is a broader term and also includes “sky glow”, the cumulative effect of artificial lights in towns and cities which wastes energy, disturbs the natural cycles of wild animals and birds and disrupts astronomers' view of the stars.
Well designed and installed security lighting should not cause a light nuisance. When installing light you should bear the following in mind:
Contact the source yourself
We encourage complainants to try to resolve the matter informally by making a direct approach to the person responsible for the light, either in person or by letter. If you have discussed your complaint with the source, but failed to improve the situation, or you do not feel able to contact your neighbour about a problem for any particular reason, you can then ask the Environmental Protection Team to investigate.
Contact the Environmental Protection Team
We investigate an alleged light nuisance in the same way as we investigate other reported nuisances. We make an evidence-based decision and consider several factors including:
In the first instance we ask you to complete a diary for two weeks. We also write to the source drawing their attention to the complaint.
Some lights are irritating but do not constitute a statutory nuisance. For example if the excess light could be resolved by installing ordinary curtains or blinds it is unlikely to be considered a nuisance. If the light is sufficiently intrusive that black out blinds are required it may be a nuisance.
If the presence of a statutory light nuisance is substantiated the Council will issue an abatement notice requiring the source to ensure light does not cause a nuisance to others. This does not mean they must remove the light. Often redirecting the light will resolve the problem.