For light to be considered for nuisance action the following needs to apply, "Artificial light emitted from premises so as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance"
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
Nor from (if the best measures are taken):
- 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 on domestic security lighting.
However, few, if any instances of this kind will fulfil the criteria of a "nuisance" given the specialist meaning of that word in the Act. There are also no records of successful private litigation. Statutory nuisances are essentially about public health and whilst lights briefly turning on and off, triggered by cats and foxes, may be irritating to light sleeping people with thin curtains, they will rarely, if ever, be harmful.
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) have guidance leaflets on nuisance from lighting which you can find through our useful links area.
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
Action against light pollution
If you are experiencing light pollution from your neighbours try approaching the owner of the offending light, politely requesting:
- re-angling or partial shading of the light
- fitting of a passive infra red sensor
- using a lower power bulb
It might help if you can show the neighbour the effect of the light from "your side of the fence". You can also politely suggest to the owner that they may be wasting money on excessive lighting. For more information on light nuisance or making a complaint please see our "Are you being disturbed by light" leaflet and our "Domestic Security Lighting Guidance" in our useful documents area.
Note: lights do not always deter criminals (the main insurers do not offer any reductions in premiums for exterior lighting).