Light pollution can best be described as artificial light that is allowed to illuminate or intrude upon areas not intended to be lit. Light in the wrong place at the wrong time can be intrusive.
Intrusive light is over bright or poorly directed lights shining onto neighbouring property which affect the neighbours' right to enjoy their property. An example of this would be a poorly directed security light shining into a bedroom window. In most circumstance poorly directed light is easily rectified. We would therefore encourage affected parties to informally engage with their neighbours in such circumstance.
To assist members of the public in instigating successful neighbour engagement we have developed a toolkit to assist you in the process of communicating with your neighbours without causing unnecessary conflict:
The best form of communication initially is in person. WRS advocates such engagement as many problems are caused inadvertently due to a lack of foresight, change in concerns about security, poor perception etc. In our experience neighbour engagement is often the most successful means of resolving problems and preventing them recurring.
- Do not approach your neighbour in the heat of the moment or late at night concerning your problem. Try to engage them at times of the day such as the weekend to discuss your concern.
- Do not tell your neighbour what they should do or threaten them with the local authority.
- Try to engage in casual conversation prior to raising your concerns as an ice breaker to introduce your problem as this is less likely to instigate a defensive response. Possibly suggest that they should stand outside with you to discuss the light and invite them to the affected location on your property to see the problem for themselves.
- Listen to your neighbour and try to be understanding their circumstance also. By doing this it is likely to lead to common ground and an agreement of what will be done to ease the problem.
On occasions neighbourly communication may be unsuccessful due to a number of reasons and an alternative method of communicating may be through a friendly letter.
Our Advice :
WRS have prepared 3 sample letters that you can copy and edit to suit your particular circumstance. They are graded in order from a friendly request to a final request prior to a formal complaint:
- Example Letter 1 - Initial friendly request
- Example Letter 2 - Intermediate request
- Example Letter 3 - Final request prior to formal complaint
At the same time begin keeping an accurate record of the problem using diary record form.
If all informal processes of engagement have failed then you can make a service request for assistance from WRS. You can only progress if you can demonstrate that you have made reasonable efforts to engage your neighbours in an attempt to resolve the problems that you are experiencing.
To make a service request please use our Light Nuisance Service Request form.
If you are affected by the impacts of artificial light, DEFRA guidance state that it is sometimes recommended that a complaint of artificial light nuisance could easily be mitigated by the use of curtains or blinds, even blackout curtains or blinds, by the complainant. It might be reasonable to expect a complainant to use curtains or blinds of everyday standard if they are bothered by unwanted light in their home. It might not be reasonable to require a complainant to purchase and install blackout hangings which might be expensive, and/or impair that person’s enjoyment of his property.
Skyglow is a urban light pollution phenomena that goes beyond the legislative jurisdiction of the Local Authority. Sky-glow may interfere with the sky at night and the interests of astronomers however it cannot be dealt with as a statutory nuisance.
If you have concerns over potential light pollution from a new or proposed development you should contact your Local Authority planning department. However not all new lighting requires planning consent, for example domestic security lighting.