Light Pollution

Light pollution is any form of artificial light that is allowed to shine or pollute areas outside that should never of been lit. Poorly designed, excessive and badly aimed lighting can have an adverse environmental effect and cause problems for people in the local neighbourhood.

Light Nuisance

Light nuisance is artificial light from premises this can cause a statutory nuisance because it interferes with a person's rights to enjoy their own property. Nuisance is not the same as annoyance e.g. security lighting briefly triggered by animals may be irritating to light sleeping people with thin curtains, but will rarely, if ever, be harmful.

Common complaints about artificial light include:

  • Domestic security lights
  • Industrial and commercial security lights
  • Sports lighting
  • Car parks
  • Commercial advertising
The law mostly relates to light nuisance from domestic premises. It does not apply to artificial light from railway, public service and goods vehicles operating centres.

There is also a statutory defence of "best practicable means" which relates to:
  • artificial light emitted from industrial, trade or business premises
  • artificial light emitted by lights used for the purpose only of illuminating an outdoor relevant sports facility.

Planning legislation also covers the lighting of many of these facilities.

What can I do about Light Nuisance?

Consider talking to the person responsible to discuss the problem. Try to keep things light-hearted and friendly and explain how the light is affecting you. Politely suggest possible solutions to the problem such as:

  • re-angle or partially shade the light
  • fit a passive infra red sensor so that the light is not on all the time
  • use a lower power bulb

 You may find it difficult to speak to the person responsible, but a direct approach sometimes has the best result. Sometimes residents or businesses will be unaware they are causing a nuisance. The problem is not always one of inconsiderate behaviour.

How to avoid causing Light Nuisance

  • Think about the position of the light. Is it shining directly at a neighbour's bedroom window?
  • Reduce the amount of time a light is on by fitting a timer, and if a sensor is fitted, think about the area covered by the sensor, so that it does not cause the light to come on more often than is needed
  • Use a low Watt, low energy bulb. Some security floodlights are 500W whereas 150W is adequate for most situations; this will also help reduce your running costs..
  • Use a shield or hood so that the light is directed to the area it is intended for.
  • Does the area need a light? Sometimes lights can create shadows for criminals to work in.

If you have any queries about light nuisance, contact the Environmental Health & Licencing team on 01643703704 or email customerservices@westsomerset.gov.uk or complete the online form.