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Light Pollution and Statutory Nuisance

The Council has a duty to take reasonable steps, where practicable, to investigate any complaints of artificial light nuisance. It is expected that the following sources will generate most complaints:-

  • Domestic Security Lights
  • Commercial Security Lights
  • Healthy Living and Sports Facilities
  • Domestic Decorative Lighting
  • Exterior Lighting of Buildings and Decorative Lighting of Landscapes
  • Laser Shows, Sky Beams and Light Art

Christmas lights may also be the subject of complaint and could be covered by a statutory light nuisance, although this seems unlikely given their duration.

Statutory nuisance from artificial light and light pollution

It is anticipated that much artificial light nuisance will be caused by excessive levels of illuminance and glare, which is inappropriate to its needs and which has been poorly designed, directed, operated and maintained. Simple remedies, such as re aiming or screening, should be sufficient in many cases. Artificial light nuisance may be but is not necessarily, the same as light pollution. Artificial light nuisance is a source of light that in the opinion of an Environmental Health Officer, interferes with someone's use of their property and/or is or might be prejudicial to someone's health. Light pollution on the other hand, is a more general term and could be defined as any form of artificial light which shines outside the area it needs to illuminate, including light that is directed above the horizontal into the night sky creating sky glow, or which creates a danger by glare. Although light pollution might affect the aesthetic beauty of the night sky and interfere with astronomy, it is not necessarily also a statutory nuisance, which would be enforceable by the Council.

Domestic security lights

Anyone aggrieved by neighbours lighting should attempt to speak to their neighbour first, where possible. Inappropriate lighting can cause glare and dark shadows which may adversely affect drivers, cyclists and other road users, including pedestrians and people with a visual impairment. Should it not be possible to reach a mutually-agreeable solution, then officers from Customer and Environmental Services may be able to assist and if necessary take formal action to ensure compliance with relevant legislation. If you feel that you need to go down this route, then please use the contact information at the bottom of this page to log an enquiry with the Council.

Further information is available in the DEFRA publication entitled Statutory Nuisance from Insects and Artificial Light and from the Institution of Lighting Engineers.

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This page was last reviewed 22 September 2009 at 16:12 by Ben Brown.
The page is next due for review 21 March 2010.
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Malvern Hills District Council, Council House, Avenue Road, Malvern, WR14 3AF - Directions to Council Offices.