Light pollution is probably best described as artificial light that is allowed to illuminate or pollute areas not intended to be lit.
Intrusive light is the intrusion of over bright or poorly directed lights onto neighbouring property, which affect the neighbours' right to enjoy their own property. A typical example would be an inconsiderately directed security light shining into a bedroom window.
Before going to the expense and effort of installing lighting, a few simple questions should be asked:
If lighting is necessary, a number of measures can be taken to avoid causing a nuisance:
The best method of dealing with light pollution is at the planning stage. This is an ideal time to influence the design or installation of lighting schemes. However, not all developments require planning consent, in particular, premises used for transport purposes, and other premises where high levels of light are required for safety and security reasons. Generally, developments involving the carrying out of building or engineering, or which involve making material changes to existing buildings or land, will require planning consent.
Local authorities receiving complaints about light in England and Wales, can now assess whether the light is a statutory nuisance under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005. This extends the nuisance provisions of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, to cover artificial light emitted from premises (excluding transport facilities, freight depots, lighthouses, defence premises and prisons).
Civil action can be taken by an individual to tackle a lighting problem. He or she would have to be able to prove that a nuisance exists. The statutory nuisance dealing with light is defined as "artificial light emitted from premises so as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance". Nuisance, in this context, is anything that would be regarded as an unreasonable interference with someone's use of their property, or prejudicial to their, or someone else's, health.
The statutory nuisance regime will not be available in certain instances, in particular, in relation to premises used for transport purposes, and other premises where high levels of light are required for safety and security reasons.
Statutory nuisance in terms of the Environmental Protection Act is dealt with in more detail in oursection.
There is currently no legislation in Northern Ireland in relation to lighting, though legislation in relation to noise and statutory nuisances is planned, but is currently still in the early consultation stages. If you have a problem with lighting, you should contact your local council who may be able to assist you.