Artificial Light Nuisance

Artificial light emitted from premises can in some circumstances become a statutory nuisance. This is usually where it is excessive in relation to its purpose or where the source of the lighting is poorly designed or directed. In many cases the problem can be solved by altering the direction of the light or by screening it.

Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 local authorities have a duty to take reasonably practicable steps to investigate any complaints of artificial light nuisance made by their residents.

The following types of lighting are all covered by the Act

Domestic and commercial security lighting
Lighting at sports facilities
Exterior lighting of buildings and decorative lighting of landscapes
Laser shows /sky beams /light art

Some types of lighting are, however, excluded from the Act. These include lighting from premises used for transport purposes such as airports, bus stations or railway premises. Lighting from premises where high levels of light are required for safety and security reasons such as prisons or defence establishments is also exempt.

From January 2013, the CIEH is collecting data from English local authorities on complaints about light from exempt premises. Local authorities can report complaints by clicking here.

Members of the public concerned about light nuisance should contact their local authority

Further information and guidance on artificial light nuisance can be found on the website of the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

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