Light pollution

Light pollution is best described as artificial light that is illuminating or polluting areas not intended to be lit. It is intrusive and referred to as the “trespass” of light.

Light nuisance may constitute a statutory nuisance under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (provision added by the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005).

Artificial light from domestic or commercial security lights, exterior lights to buildings or landscapes are some of the problems that can be experienced.

Factors that determine whether or not an artificial light source is a statutory nuisance 

  • The frequency of light nuisance incidents
  • What time the light is used from and when is it turned off 
  • How long does the light last for
  • The impact of the light e.g. how bright is the light in your house and what rooms are affected 
  • Have any measures been taken to mitigate the impact of the light by the complainant; e.g. use of curtains or blinds

How to prevent light pollution

Before going to the expense and effort of installing lights, consider the following points:
  • Is lighting necessary?
  • Could safety/security be achieved by other measures such as the screening of an area?
  • Do the lights have to be on all night?
  • Install the right amount for the task - for a domestic security light, a 150w lamp is usually adequate. High power (300/500w) lamps create too much glare reducing security. For an all night porch light a 9w lamp is more than adequate in most situations
  • Correctly adjusted lights only illuminate the surface intended and do not throw light onto neighbouring property. Set the angles of all main beam lights to below 70 degrees
  • Make sure security lights are adjusted so that they only pick up movement of persons in the area intended and not beyond
  • Direct light downwards. If up lighting has to be used then install shields or baffles above the lamp to reduce the amount of wasted upward light
  • Do not install equipment which spreads light above the horizontal

Report it

If you would like to report a light pollution nuisance, please use the online enquiry form.

Make an neighbourhood nuisance enquiry here

Or you can also report a light pollution nuisance in writing to:

Compliance Team,
London Borough of Sutton,
24 Denmark Road,
Carshalton SM5 2JG

Tel: 020 8770 5000
Email: environmentalhealth@sutton.gov.uk

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