How other jurisdictions have
legislated against light pollution
147. As previously discussed, other countries have
produced legislation to counter the effects of light pollution.
Only one country, the Czech Republic, has enacted national legislation.
Each country has tackled the issue by controlling the type and
position of light source and fitting that may be installed, rather
than just measuring the emission.
148. For example, in the United States of America
several states (Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maine, Texas, Colorado,
Massachusetts, Maryland and Georgia) have legislation of various
degrees of severity requiring state-funded lighting to be fitted
with FCO lighting if the lighting units have an output of greater
than 1,800 lumens (a 125w bulb). Arizona has required that all
outdoor lighting fixtures must be fully or partly shielded with
FCO lighting if the lights are more than 150w. Non-conforming
lights can be used if they shut off automatically between midnight
and dawn. New Mexico requires that all new outdoor lighting should
be shielded below the horizontal level or shut off after 11pm.
Non-conforming lighting must be replaced with conforming fixtures
once they wear out.
149. The Czech Republic's "Protection of the
Atmosphere" Act 2002 defines light pollution as any form
of illumination by artificial light which is dispersed outside
the areas in which it is intended, particularly in cases when
the light is above horizontal level. Powers have been given to
local authorities to specify and implement regulations to ensure
that light pollution does not occur within their municipality,
and they have been given the power to impose fines if these regulations
are breached. It does not specify how pollution is to be measured
or prevented, further than the definition of light pollution itself.
However, an amendment is currently going through the Czech Parliament
which will provide greater detail on this.
150. Bisei in Japan and the Canary Islands have both
implemented legislation to protect world-class observatories in
these areas, and in both areas the restrictions are quite severe.
For example, in Bisei all outdoor lights (apart from safety lights)
must be turned off after 10pm, and both indoor and outdoor lights
must be shaded to prevent light going above the horizontal. Bisei
has adopted the IAU guidance which suggests that the brightness
of the night sky should not exceed 10% of the natural condition.
The Japanese National Government have developed guidelines, and
planning guidance referring to international examples and aiming
to reduce light pollution.
151. Lombardy passed the regional law, The Light
Pollution Act 2000 in order to reduce light pollution and the
energy consumptions deriving from it, and to protect professional
astronomical observatories and non-professional observatories
carrying out scientific research or work aimed at the popularisation
of astronomy. Under the law, regional and provincial administrations,
municipalities, astronomical observatories, manufacturers, importers
and suppliers of lighting installations, project technicians and
installators were all given directives to comply with. The municipalities
were responsible for adopting lighting plans and their enforcement.
The Act defined the types, position and power of lights permissible
and gave municipalities the power to apply administrative endorsements
to those who failed to comply with the law.
152. In La Palma, as well as restrictions on the
types of lighting permissible, ornamental floodlighting, the floodlighting
of sports facilities and advertisements must be turned off after
midnight. Each zone on the island has a total limit on the amount
of light emission permissible. The observatory in La Palma is
protected by the Astrophysics Institute's Office for the Protection
of the Quality of the Canarian Sky. Professor Murdin told us that
the technique for monitoring the light emissions was "repeated
photographs of the landscape around the observatories and repeated
measurement of the flux of light from artificial sources that
comes from the telescope."
There are similar restrictions around the Anglo-Australian telescope
in Australia and the International Observatory in Chile which
is monitored by the Office for the Protection of the Skies of
Both the Government and PPARC have voiced their support for these
restrictive measures around the world-class observatories overseas
in which the UK Government has heavily invested.
153. Other countries have used restrictions on
the type and duration of lighting permissible in an attempt to
control light pollution. Measurement of light emission is only
used in the most heavily regulated areas. We believe that the
Government should monitor the situation in the UK carefully over
the next five to ten years. Should the creation of a statutory
nuisance of light, a separate PPG for light pollution and enhanced
guidance to local authorities on the issue of light pollution
not produce a reduction of the current levels of skyglow, the
Government must consider adopting similar legislation to other
countries, to control the types of outside lighting used, and
to ensure that no outdoor lighting shines above the horizontal.
The Government must recognise, as other countries have, that the
night sky needs protecting.