Statutory nuisance: Lighting

The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 amended the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to bring artificial light from premises under the statutory nuisance regime from 6 April 2006. The following will constitute a statutory nuisance under this act:

“Artificial light emitted from premises so as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance”

Unfortunately, this does not apply to artificial light from:   

  • an airport
  • harbour premises
  • railway premises
  • tramway premises
  • a bus station and any associated facilities
  • a public service vehicle operating centre
  • a goods vehicle operating centre
  • a lighthouse
  • a prison
  • street lighting

There is however, a statutory defence of “best practicable means” (BPM) available to:

  • Artificial light emitted from industrial, trade or business premises; and
  • Artificial light emitted by lights used for the purpose only of illuminating an outdoor relevant sports facility

The lighting of many of these facilities is also controllable currently under planning legislation, leaving the focus of the new provision on domestic security lighting.
So to avoid causing light pollution:

  • do not fit unnecessary lights
  • do not use excessively bright lights, a 150 watt tungsten halogen lamp is quite adequate, 300 or 500 watt bulbs are too powerful for domestic security lighting
  • do not leave lights on when they are not needed, consider controlling lights with passive infra-red detectors, ensuring that they are correctly aligned and installed. For a porch light that is going to be left on all night, a nine watt compact fluorescent lamp is normally adequate

By taking simple steps to prevent, light pollution people can also save money by being more energy efficient.

To take action against light pollution

If you are experiencing light pollution from your neighbours try approaching them, politely requesting that they:

  • re-angling or partial shading of the light
  • fitting of a passive infra red sensor
  • using a lower power bulb
  • it may help if you can show the neighbour the effect of the light on you

If a compromise cannot be reached then contact Environmental Protection Team who will investigate your complaint as to whether the lighting is in fact a nuisance.

How do I complain about nuisance neighbours?

Please contact the Environmental Protection team by using the Neighbourhood and Environmental Reports online form to proceed with an investigation into your complaint, the following information will be required:

  • Your name, address and phone number/email address
  • The details of the complaint
  • The address of the neighbouring property causing the alleged nuisance

The team will not investigate anonymous complaints.

Where possible, to assist the investigation, please supply any photographs/videos/sound recordings of the nuisance you are experiencing (date/time stamped if possible).

Action by Environmental Protection team

After you have made a request for service to Environmental Protection, an officer assigned to your service request will explain the procedure to be followed and will respond by writing or telephone within four working days of receiving your complaint.

We have a standard letter procedure for the initial stages of dealing with nuisance complaints. You will be sent a letter, together with a nuisance record sheet on which you should record any further incidents.

A letter will also be sent to the person you are making the complaint about.  This will give the person an opportunity to consider their actions and may well result in the problem you have been experiencing reduced to an acceptable leave. Any details you provide us with will be kept confidential.

If situation improves, you may wish to take no further action. The case officer will keep your request open for 28 days, after which it will normally be closed unless you have contacted us in the meantime.

However if the situation deteriorates you should complete the nuisance record sheet, as these will be needed as evidence, should the case proceed onto a more formal stage. These should then be returned to the case officer as soon as possible to assess if there is a potential statutory nuisance.

If the case officer is suspect nuisance that amounts to a statutory nuisance then the case officer will need to witness the disturbance by way of monitoring visits or by installing noise monitoring equipment in your home to record.  At this stage a formal second letter is sent to the person being complaint of.

If having witnessed the problem and officers are satisfied that a statutory nuisance is occurring, an abatement notice will be served on the person responsible for the nuisance. Failure to comply with such a notice is an offence and will usually result in prosecution. At this point it may be necessary for your name and address to be disclosed.

Complaints Made Outside Office Hours

Any enquiries/complaints will be responded to by the team within 4 working days, including those made outside office hours.

Environmental Protection

West Lindsey District Council
Guildhall, Marshall's Yard
Gainsborough
Lincolnshire
DN21 2NA