Light Pollution

What is Light Pollution?

Light pollution is the popular name for sky glow - a brightening of the night sky caused by various sources of outdoor lighting. This has an impact on both the human and wildlife populations.

What are the sources of light pollution?

The major sources of artificial light include:

  • Street lighting (in an urban environment about 40%)
  • Domestic and industrial security lamps
  • Advertising and display lighting
  • Floodlights for sporting events and building illumination.

Lighting can cause a variety of ecological and aesthetic impacts, and ill-directed or unnecessary lighting is a waste of energy. Its effects include:

How can we reduce light pollution?

The extent of light pollution can be dramatically reduced by a number of simple measures:

  • Use light fittings designed to reduce light emitted above the horizontal
  • Position lighting properly and direct it downwards. If up lighting is the only option, use shields or baffles to reduce light spill
  • Use passive infra-red detectors for domestic security lighting
  • Use only the necessary amount of lighting
  • Switch off unnecessary lighting, particularly decorative floodlighting and advertising lighting, late at night and in the early morning

Is light pollution a statutory nuisance?

Excessive amounts of artificial light could qualify as a statutory nuisance, provided it causes a material interference with the comfort and enjoyment of your property.

However, certain types of lighting installations are exempt from statutory control:

  • Airports
  • Harbours
  • Railway premises
  • Tramway premises
  • Bus stations and associated facilities
  • Street lighting
  • Public service vehicle operating centres
  • Goods vehicle operating centres
  • Lighthouses
  • Prisons
  • Premises occupied for defence purposes

If you have a problem with intrusive levels of artificial light and you are unable to resolve them with your neighbour, please contact the Environmental Health Section and we will investigate your complaint.

Further help on light pollution

Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Energy Saving Trust