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Light nuisance

Artificial lighting is essential in our modern society, however, light in the wrong place or at the wrong time can be intrusive. There has been an increase in complaints about light pollution to local authorities in recent years.

Light nuisance laws

The Environmental Protection Act 1990, as amended by the Clean Neighbourhood and Environment Act 2005, places a duty on the council to investigate complaints of nuisance caused by some artificial light sources. If light is found to be causing a statutory nuisance by affecting the health or materially interfering with the use and enjoyment of a neighbouring property then a legal notice may be served on the person responsible, requiring the abatement of the nuisance. Failure to comply with the notice can result in a criminal prosecution.

Street lighting cannot be dealt with under statutory nuisance provision, as a street cannot be defined as a premise.

Report a light nuisance

To make a complaint or for advice please email us

The length of time it takes to investigate complaints varies according to the nature of the complaint. Usually, we will ask you to keep records (PDF) [15KB] (opens new window)  for up to one month and depending on the information you send us we may wish to monitor the source of the noise ourselves.

Prevent light pollution

To prevent light pollution, you should consider the following advice:

  • for domestic security lights, use a 150W lamp
  • make sure the lights are illuminating only on your property
  • motion detectors on security lights should be properly set up - they should only pick up the movement of persons in the area intended and not beyond.

Some premises are exempt from the legislation, such as premises used for transport purposes and other premises where high levels of light are required for safety and security reasons, such as:

  • airports
  • harbours
  • railway premises
  • tramway premises
  • bus stations and associated facilities
  • public service vehicle operating centres
  • goods vehicle operating centres
  • lighthouses
  • prisons.

More information is about light pollution is available on the International Dark Sky Association website (opens new window).