Light nuisance

Light pollution directed up into the sky may affect the beauty of the night sky, but it is not considered a light nuisance to residents. For light to be considered as a potential statutory nuisance, it has to be a significant interference with the use and enjoyment of one's property or harmful to health.

Streetlights are unlikely to qualify as artificial light nuisance. A nuisance has to emanate from “premises” however, the highways on which streetlights are situated are not normally deemed to be "premises".

Certain types of premises are exempted such as rail, airport and public transport facilities and prisons. Industrial, trade and business premises and outdoor sports pitches have to take reasonable steps to minimise any nuisance.

There are no set levels of light above which a statutory nuisance is, or may be caused. In investigating we will take account of a range of factors including:

  • Duration.
  • Frequency.
  • Material interference with use of property or personal comfort.
  • The nature and character of the local environment.
  • Whether the light is due to unreasonable behaviour or commonplace action.
  • Sensitivity of the complainant - statutory nuisance cannot take account of undue sensitivity due to for example, age, health, occupation or personal preferences.
  • Number of households affected.

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If you are installing outdoor lighting, first consider

  • Is the lighting really necessary?
  • Will the light affect others? (consider the direction of the beam, and try to keep the illumination within the boundary of your own property)
  • Do the lights need to be on all of the time?
  • Could security be better achieved in another way?
  • Where sensors are used to trigger lights, are these able to be set to avoid accidental triggering?
  • Is the proposed lighting too powerful for the intended use?
  • There are energy savings to be made by using less powerful lamps and restricting the time that they are switched on
  • Is the light directed downwards?

You may have good reasons to install exterior lighting on your property, but please take steps to prevent it from becoming a nuisance.

If you are affected by nuisance lighting from your neighbours

If you are affected by light nuisance talk to the owner of the lighting, outlining your concerns. There may be a straightforward solution through minor adjustments to the lighting system which will resolve the problem.

If you want to make a complaint about light nuisance, please contact our Environmental Health team using our complaint form.