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Sunday 28 December 2008

Light Pollution What You Can Do

For more details on what can be done see Enviromental Protection

We have recently had a problem with light pollution from the Mother and Baby Unit in Oxford St Crewe. As you can see in the picture they have external lights on all night. The lights are less than 30ft from people’s bedrooms and these lights make it imposable for people sleeping in the back to get any sleep as it’s like having the sun shining in the window all night. The owners of the site Dane Housing of Conglton were asked to turn of some of the lights but they didn’t comply.
Eventually we contacted Environmental Health who got the light turned off as its now against the law. When the centre was built in 2003 the light law wasn’t in force but now they would never get planning permission to put up these lights. Apart from the nuisance they are wasting energy when we are all trying to save the planet.
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.

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