Light pollution

How to avoid causing light pollution and when we can investigate

What is light pollution?

Light pollution occurs when very bright or poorly directed light shines on to properties and disturbs the people who live there. A typical example would be a security light that shines into a neighbour’s bedroom window and stops them from sleeping properly.

We can investigate light nuisance complaints where the light nuisance is severe. We cannot take action if normal levels of artificial light shine on to your property, such as from street lighting. There are no set levels of light above which a statutory nuisance occurs.

For the artificial light to be a statutory nuisance the light must be excessive or produce an unreasonable level of light for the area and must be affecting you in your property. It does not take into account an individual’s sensitivity to light or insufficient window coverings.

Report a light nuisance

How to avoid causing light pollution

  • don't fit unnecessary lights
  • don't use excessively bright lights; use the least powerful light needed for the purpose such as a lower wattage bulb
  • don't leave lights on when they are not needed
  • ensure that any light is correctly aligned and installed
  • when aiming floodlights, make sure you only light the area that needs lighting (the aim of the floodlight can easily be checked at night when you can see the actual area being lit)
  • be careful not to put light onto other people's properties or into windows, as this can be very upsetting and may result in a complaint
  • move or partially shade the light
  • fit an infrared sensor

Light pollution exceptions

Some light is essential for health, safety and security purposes. These are:

  • premises occupied for defence purposes
  • railway premises
  • bus stations and associated facilities
  • public service vehicle operating centres
  • goods vehicle operating centres
  • prisons
  • airports

If you experience light pollution from one of the above sources, you may still be able to make a case in civil law.