The Clean Neighbourhood & Environment Act 2005 amended the list of statutory nuisances under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to include light nuisance. Certain types of premises are exempted from these provisions and these generally relate to transport undertakers such as rail, airport and public transport facilities, but also to premises such as prisons.
Streetlights are unlikely to qualify as artificial light nuisance, as a nuisance must emanate from premises, and highways are not normally deemed to be "premises".
Unlike residents, the occupiers of industrial, trade and business premises have a defence of best practical means (BPM) available to them under the Environmental Protection Act, as the law recognises that in some circumstances, commercial activities may give rise to complaints as a consequence of carrying out their business. Providing they have taken reasonable steps to minimise the nuisance, they will not be deemed to cause a statutory nuisance. The Clean Neighbourhood and Environment Act specifically extends the BPM defence to all outdoor, relevant sports facilities.
Light pollution may affect the beauty of the night sky and our view of the stars etc but it is not a light nuisance. A nuisance is not the same as an annoyance, and "statutory nuisance" has a narrower meaning than "nuisance" in common law. A statutory nuisance either has to be a significant interference with the use and enjoyment of one's property or be harmful to health.
There are no set levels of light above which a statutory nuisance is, or may be caused. The investigating officer will take account of a range of factors including:
You may have good reasons to install exterior lighting on your property but always consider your actions carefully, and take steps to prevent it from becoming a nuisance. It is normally possible to set up lights without them upsetting other people.
As with other nuisance problems, if you are affected by light nuisance it is advisable to approach the owner of the lighting, in the first instance, outlining your concerns. There may be a straightforward solution through minor adjustments to the lighting system that will resolve the problem. Often the lighting owner may not be aware that their system is giving rise to a problem.
First, try approaching the owner of the offending light, perhaps politely requesting:
It might help if you can show the neighbour the effect of the light from "your side of the fence".
For further information please contact Environmental Health on 01883 732841 or e-mail email@example.com
Or write to us at:
Tandridge District Council
8 Station Road East
Oxted Surrey RH8 0BT
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