Artificial light has many uses, including the illumination of roads, streets and hazardous areas. Lights are often used for security and to enhance the appearance of buildings at night. Poorly designed, excessive and badly aimed lighting can have an adverse environmental effect and cause problems for people in the local neighbourhood. The Clean Neighbourhoods & Environment Act 2005 provided the council with the power to deal with artificial lights that cause a statutory nuisance under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, in much the same way as noise is currently controlled.
Under this Act, any artificial lighting identified as a statutory nuisance will be subject to restriction or abatement with potential fines for non-compliance. Most cases can be resolved informally with the intervention of the Environment & Neighbourhoods team.
What can you do?
If you have security lighting:
• Make sure that it does not cause intrusive light onto neighbouring properties and adjust where necessary.
• Check the sensors are set correctly so that the light only comes on when triggered by a person (not animals).
• Make sure any security lights are angled downwards to prevent glare.
• Make sure the power or illumination of the bulb is not excessive.
What if I am disturbed by light?
If you are being disturbed by artificial light and can identify the source, you may wish to go direct to the person responsible and try to resolve the problem amicably before contacting the council. Your neighbour may not be aware that their light is causing a problem and may take action to rectify the problem. If this approach fails or if you do not want to approach your neighbour directly, you can report the matter to the council, who will investigate further and initially try to resolve the matter informally.
If the case cannot be resolved informally, and we agree that there is a statutory light nuisance, then a Notice will be served on the neighbour, requiring them to take action to resolve the problem within a specified time scale. For the artificial light to be a statutory nuisance, the light must be excessive or producing an unreasonable level of light for the area and must be affecting you in your property.
Some types of premises require high levels of light for safety and/or security reasons. Consequently, the legislation does not apply to artificial light emitted from the following premises
- Bus stations and associated facilities
- Goods vehicle operating centres
- Railway premises
- Tramway premises
- Public service vehicle operating centres
- Premises occupied for Defence premises
The legislation also offers a statutory defence of "best practicable means" that relates to
- artificial light emitted from industrial, trade or business premises
- artificial light emitted by lights used for the purpose of illuminating an outdoor relevant sports facility
In this instance if a light causes a statutory nuisance, the business premises must be able to demonstrate that the "best practicable means" have been taken to prevent or mitigate the effects.
Contact the Environment & Neighbourhoods Team for further advice or to register a complaint.