light polluting neighbour

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astroeyes
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light polluting neighbour

Post by astroeyes »

I'm considering reporting a near neighbour of mine for unnecessary light pollution. He has these very bright 'street lights' 8 feet tall, installed in his garden which he turns on nearly every night - sometimes leaves them on all night. They are extremely bright, you can easily read a book under them and they shine right across my observing site. I've asked him very nicely and politely to turn them off or move them. He became very abusive. Does the Clean neighbourhood act have any teeth or will I just be making an ass of myself complaining?
Any advice would be much appreciated.
Thanks,
David
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RL Astro
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Post by RL Astro »

I think there's some aspect of the law that deals with abusive, bad, annoying neighbours (like your friend over there) but I'm not entirely sure what it is. Be worth looking into but definitely complain. Can't let him destroy your hobby.
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Post by Zeke »

Are there any other neighbours who are disturbed by this nuisance?
People with little children, shift workers etc?
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Post by Hawk »

Just have a chat with your local council or CAB. They can usually tell you where you stand.
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Vega
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Post by Vega »

I know that council's sometimes put a rear sheild on their street lights if they get enough complaints. Maybe the same can be enforced on a private light as well.

Have you tried contacting people from the Campaign for Dark Skies Website ? They will point you in the right direction

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astroeyes
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Post by astroeyes »

Thanks for the advice. My immediate neighbour is 85 and doesn't want to get too involved. I've written to the CfDS for advice, will let you know what happens!
David
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carlos dfc
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Post by carlos dfc »

I read somewhere recently (sorry, can't remember where) that private lighting must not directly encroach onto neighbouring properties.
and the perpetrator can be made to either adjust or remove the offending light - by law.

Not sure if this law is already in force, or if it is still 'in-the-pipeline' - so to speak.
As already suggested, CAB should be able to help.
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Post by stewart »

We had a neighbour who had a security light that shone in our bedroom window,it actually light up the whole house right up to the chimney.I asked if she could alter the angle of the light so it only lit up her garden and not my bedroom,bu**er off was the reply from this delightful 60ish woman,"its none of your business,its my light and i'll do what i want with it,luckily it was only on occasionally but when on observing was a total waste of time :cry: .....I wanted to smash the light but my wife went to the police who told the woman that like excessive noise,excessive light (light pollution) was also an offence and if she didnt remove or alter the angle of the light she would be charged,end of problem :lol: She doesnt speak to me any more,i'm heartbroken...This was a couple of years ago so either there is a law or the police were putting the" frighteners " on her ,i'm not sure which.

Good luck........Stewart
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Post by Praesepe »

This is from the DEFRA website:

Dealing with artificial light nuisance
What is light nuisance?
The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 amended the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to bring artificial light from premises under the statutory nuisance regime as of 6 April 2006.

What to do if you are suffering from artificial light nuisance from premises
If you are concerned about light nuisance coming from a neighbour’s garden, a local business or manufacturer, often the best way to deal with the problem is to go straight to the source.

Consider talking to the person or company responsible for the light nuisance and point out the problem. You may find that they are unaware that they are causing a disturbance. Remember we may all be guilty of creating a nuisance from light nuisance at some time without knowing it. The problem is not always one of inconsiderate behaviour.

Mediation could be the answer
If the direct approach does not work you may want to consider mediation. An independent third party will listen to the views of both parties and can help you to reach an agreement or compromise. You can obtain details about the location of services in your area from Mediation UK on 0117 9046661.

Taking formal action
When informal action is not possible or fails, you can resolve the problem by taking formal action. The most common route involves complaining to your local authority about the light problem. Local authorities have a duty to investigate complaints. Under sections 79 to 81 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 local authorities have a duty to deal with light nuisance from premises which they consider to be a statutory nuisance.

Who do I complain to?
If you want to make a complaint about light nuisance you should contact your local authority, usually the Environmental Health Department. The number will be in your local telephone directory.

If they visit or witness the light problem and are satisfied that a statutory nuisance exists or is likely to occur or recur, they must take action. If the light nuisance is intermittent, they may ask you to keep details of the problem in the form of a diary.

Sometimes they may measure the light as part of their investigation into a complaint. There is no set level at which artificial light from premises becomes a statutory nuisance.

Serving an abatement notice
If the local authority is satisfied that artificial light from premises amounts to a statutory nuisance they must serve an abatement notice. This may require the activity causing the nuisance to stop altogether, or that good practice is adopted to prevent a nuisance. A notice must be served on the person responsible for the light nuisance or, in certain circumstances, the owner or occupier of the premises. A person on whom an abatement notice has been served has the right of appeal within twenty-one days of it being served. Industrial, trade and business premises, as well as relevant sports premises, may use as a defence upon appeal or against prosecution the proof that ‘best practicable means’ were used to prevent or counteract the effects of a nuisance.

Failure to comply with an abatement notice
If a person on whom an abatement notice has been served fails, without reasonable cause, to comply, s/he will have committed an offence. For offences relating to domestic premises, the magistrates’ court may impose a fine of up to £5,000 with a further fine of up to £500 for each day on which the offence continues after conviction. When the nuisance arises on industrial, trade or business premises, the maximum fine is £20,000.

http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/loc ... /index.htm
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Post by Alan »

Praesepe wrote:This is from the DEFRA website:
Interesting post, thanks for sharing the information you have found as i am sure this will be very helpfull/usefull for a lot of people in the same sort of situation as astroeyes has found himself in.
tonk
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Post by tonk »

It is now a civil offence under section 102 of the Clean Neighbourhood act to shine excessive light into a neigbours property or onto a public road if it is predudical to health or prevents you from enjoying the amenities of your property. This became law 6th April 2006. However I understand it hasn't been tested to any great extent yet in the courts.

With the right approach it shouldn't reach court

In January this year our new near neighours installed a 500 watt sercurity light just above their ground front room window, pointing directly outwards across the public road over a pond and wildlife area and much further! Further more they routinely left it on for 5 hours each night or longer.

I printed off a copy of the same section of the DEFRA guideline quoted above and the phamphlet issued by the ILE on the correct installation of security lights

http://212.67.202.8/~ile01/uploads/File ... ghting.pdf

and had a word with my neighbour. The first issue was near eye level lighting into the main road. This is a potentially criminal offence as blinding drivers/pedestrians could cause serious accidents. Our road is a long cul-de-sac with very low traffic (hence the lack of thought) but the point was taken with regard to lowering the lights to shine only on her property. I also asked her to consider changing the bulb to 150w as recommended by the ILE. After all most modern lighhouses only need to use 250w tunsten halogen lights and a fressnell lens. 500w in a domestic situation is plain stupid (isn't it B+Q). She did agree that her electricity consumption was far far more than she expected!!!

I asked her to run the lights only on PIR i.e. only when needed when someone approached and not for the 5 hours she was out in the pub. The long story was she wanted the two small steps at the road end of her garden path lit so she didn't trip on them and that she employed an electrician to set up a light to do that. Obviously John Wayne was on the sides of the contractors van :lol: coming up with that solution.

I meantioned breeding wild geese on the pond being driven away and the fact it had ruined my hobby but these were probably incidental by this stage.

My point is back up what you have to say with DEFRA and ILE material, say it nicely and politely, go carefully for the potential criminal misdemeanours first (if one is being committed), environmental next (if related to wildlife), home economics next (look how much money you are burning etc - the ILE pamphlet shows how you can use 9 or 11w bulkheads lighting instead at a mere fraction of the cost) and use the destruction of your amenities last.

If you get no joy by then try the Enviromental Heath dept of your council. Under section 102 they are now required to investigate your complaint.

My situation outcome? She has had the light lowered, unfortunatley not reduced to 150w (but hey!), now only activated on PIR and with only a 4 second light up time. We are dark 99% of the time.

RESULT!
Last edited by tonk on Mon Mar 19, 2007 5:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
RL Astro
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Post by RL Astro »

tonk wrote:It is now a civil offence under section 102 of the Clean Neighbourhood act to shine excessive light into a neigbours property or onto a public road if it is predudical to health or prevents you from enjoying the amenities of your property. This became law 6th April 2006.
Does this include streetlights? They shine unnecessarily into back gardens stopping us see the night sky.
tonk
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Post by tonk »

Does not include street lights because they are not sited on private property.

Also airports, docks, bus stations, millitary installations and some sports facilities are totally exempt

Commercial properties have the defence of "best practicable means" which means such sites could wriggle out of correcting a complaint if it doesn't suit them and the authorities agree.

However section 102 should empower you to deal with bad lighting from domestic properties as long as the environmental health officer agrees that the problem is detremental to health/safety (keeping you awake, blinding you driving up to your parking place/garage ...) or preventing you from enjoying the use of your property. One could argue that a neighbours light preventing you using a telescope would count here. It would be useful to know if anyone has used this line of complaint with a positive result (i.e. invoking section 102 with the local council).

Note the final outcome will depend of the environmental officer judging the light as being "excessive". He might OK a 150w lamp but ban a 500w lamp - whether he could insist on PIR activation only and shortest lighting times is unclear. If you are still not happy with the outcome you will have to go around again with greater level of persuation and evidence.

The best approach really is to win over the neighbour if you can. The ILE guidlines are useful here as its not just your word, but those of professional lighting engineers. The DEFRA notes ar also useful as it makes it perfectly clear that action can be taken - not many people want to go that far - some do though :(

In my case the in-between neighbours were complaining that the light was affecting their sleep but they were reluctant to make it an issue at that stage for fear of potential neighbour wars (new neighbours - unknown quantities). In their case it was useful that a remoter neighbour (me) could bring it up.
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Post by Praesepe »

It is a shame it does'nt cover street lights etc although there was a case in Kent of a women who complained to the local council that the street light outside her house was shining in her bedroom window and depriving her of sleep.
She managed to get them to sheild the streetlight.
This was a few years ago so don't know the details but presuming that they were obliged to do so because of health issues.
Something to look into maybe.
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tonk
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Post by tonk »

Many councils are reasonable and will add shielding if you ask nicely. I know cases were lamps have been resited on request and even a case where a key switch was fitted so the astronomer could turn a lamp off!
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