Select Committee on Science and Technology Seventh Report



Czech Republic

The Clean Air Protection and Amendment of Some Other Acts (the Clean Air Act), 14 February 2002, made the Czech Republic the first Parliament to enact national legislation to tackle light pollution.

This Act regulates measures which will lead to a reduction of light pollution of the air. Light pollution is defined as "any form of illumination by artificial light, which is dispersed outside the areas to which intended, particularly in cases when directed over the horizon level."

The Act affects anybody whose activities are performed within premises and places specified by the implementation regulations. These persons shall be obliged to perform the orders of the relevant municipal authority, and in compliance with it, to take measures to prevent the occurrence of lighting pollution of air. The Act does not specify how the pollution is to be measured or prevented, but leaves this to the judgment of local authorities.

Under the Act, the municipal authority issues regulations, specifies measures or obligations for the prevention or mitigation of light pollution occurrence. The authority then has to ensure adherence to these measures and is empowered to impose fines for any failure to meet these obligations. Fines can be from CZK 500 to CZK 150,000, and may be imposed by the municipal authorities upon a person, who is in breach of at least one of the obligations laid down by an authority.

An amendment to this Act will be considered in the autumn of 2003 by the Czech Parliament. It is intended to provide further guidance to local authorities on the means by which pollution should be prevented and measured.


The Light Pollution Act enforced in the regional territory of Lombardy was passed in March 2000. It aimed to reduce light pollution, the energy consumptions deriving from it and to protect the activities of both professional astronomical observatories and observatories carrying out scientific work or the popularisation of astronomy. All installations of artificial outdoor lighting must conform with the anti-light pollution rules within time limits or face administrative endorsements of up to 1050 euros. A lighting system was considered light polluting if light was dispersed outside the areas to which it was functionally dedicated and if directed above the line of the horizon. The municipal authorities were made responsible for ensuring that the Act was complied with. Authorities were required to adopt lighting plans within three years of the legislation, and to guarantee the plans application and observation. Control of lighting by the authorities included measurement of luminance. The manufacturers, importers and suppliers of lighting products were made responsible for ensuring that products conformed with the law, and that recommendations were provided with the product to ensure correct positioning and use.

Other Italian regions have also enforced similar legislation. Seven proposals for legislation at national level have been submitted to the Italian Parliament between 1996 and 2001, but to date none have been approved.

United States of America

Several states, and many municipalities, have adopted legislation designed to limit light pollution from streetlights and other fixtures. Among the rationales for such measures has been energy conservation, the reduction of glare and its resulting traffic hazards, and a desire to allow people a better view of the night sky.


The law requires that a roadway lighting system funded by the state (1) be designed to maximise energy conservation and minimise glare and light spilling onto adjoining properties and (2) provide the minimum amount of lighting needed for its purpose. State funds can be used only if the Department of Transportation determines that the lighting needs cannot be met by other means such as reducing the speed limit in the area or installing passive lighting. The latter approach includes reflectorized roadway markings, lines, warnings, and informational signs.

Lights with a capacity of 1,800 lumens (the light produced by a 125 watt bulb) or more on the states secondary and special service highways must be designed to prevent light going above the lamp, (i.e., be equipped with a full cut-off luminaire). This requirement does not apply if it would compromise the highways safety, increase the lighting's cost, or violate federal law.

The transportation commissioner can waive the requirement if he determines it is necessary. Waiver requests must describe the lighting plan and the efforts the applicant has made to comply with the requirement and include other information the commissioner requires. In reviewing the request, the commissioner must consider design safety, costs, and other factors he considers appropriate.

These provisions do not apply if the Office of Policy and Management (1) analyses the lifetime cost of fixtures that meet these requirements and fixtures that do not and (2) certifies that the fixtures that meet the requirements are not cost effective and are not the best alternative. The law does not apply to lighting meant to be used for less than seven days (CGS § 13a-110).


Maine's law applies to all state-funded lighting fixtures. It bars the use of state funds to install or replace outdoor fixtures that exceed the minimum lighting level recommended for the application by the Illuminating Engineering Society of America or the U.S. Department of Transportation. As in Connecticut, fixtures with a rated output of 1,800 lumens must be designed so that no light goes above the lamp. In the case of highways, lighting is only allowed when non-lighting measures cannot achieve the desired result. In addition, the Highway Commissioner must consider the minimisation of glare and light trespass (light shining on neighbouring properties).

The only exceptions to these requirements are when (1) federal law has conflicting requirements or (2) the director of the Bureau of Public Improvements determines that there is a compelling safety interest that cannot be met while complying with the state law (5 Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 1769, 2.23 Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 707)


The law applies to all state-funded lighting fixtures mandating full cut off lighting for lighting units with greater than 1,800 lumens output. Lighting fixtures should be based on the minimum lighting level recommended for the application by the Illuminating Engineering Society of America or the U.S. Department of Transportation. Generally adequate consideration to light pollution and light trespass is mandatory.

Exceptions are when (1) federal law has conflicting requirements, (2) fire, police, rescue or repair personnel need light for temporary emergencies or repairs, (3) special requirements (i.e. sport facilities, historic considerations) exist, (4) substantial night time pedestrian traffic or (5) compelling safety interests mandate it.


Arizona has recently passed Senate Bill 1218 (12th May 2003) which strengthens an earlier effort (1996, Laws 1986, Chapter 236). The law is mainly concerned with the shielding of almost all outdoor light sources. The law requires that all outdoor light fixtures (other than airport navigational lights) be fully or partially shielded. Fully shielded means that no light goes above the bottom of the lamp; partially shielded means that that the shield extends at least halfway down the lamp. This requirement does not apply to incandescent lights of 150 watts or less and other sources of 70 watts or less. Streetlights are exempt from this requirement if the shielding is not available from the manufacturer.

Unlike the laws in Connecticut, this requirement applies to all lighting, rather than just that funded by the state. Nonconforming lights can be used if they automatically shut off between midnight and dawn. Arizona has prohibited the installation of new mercury vapour lamps since 1991. Counties and municipalities can adopt more stringent standards. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 49-1101 et seq.)

New Mexico

The law requires that new outdoor night lighting, with certain exceptions, be shielded below horizon level or shut off after 11 p.m. It requires that nonconforming existing fixtures be replaced with conforming fixtures when they become inoperable. Agricultural, industrial, and mining or oil and gas facilities, and billboard lighting on interstates and federal primary highways are exempt from these requirements. Public utilities can adjust rates to recover the replacement costs (N.M. Stat. Ann. § 74-12-1 through 74-12-10).


The law bars state funds being used to install, replace, or operate outdoor lighting fixtures unless:

1. any new or replacement fixtures with a capacity above 1,800 lumens has a cut-off luminaire (this standard is somewhat more lenient than Connecticut's);

2. any new or existing lamp provides no more than the minimum lighting needed for the intended purpose, considering nationally recognised standards;

3. for state highway lighting, the use of passive measures cannot eliminate the need for the lighting; and

4. energy conservation, glare reduction, minimisation of light pollution, and preservation of the natural night environment has been fully considered.

The requirements do not apply to temporary lighting and lighting used solely to enhance the aesthetic beauty of an object. Nor do they apply when compliance would violate federal law or when there is a compelling safety interest that cannot be met by other means (Tex. Health and Safety Code Ann. § 421.001 et seq.).

Furthermore the 2001Texas law (HB164) deals specifically with the "protection of professional observatories from skyglow". This law allows county commissioners near 3 Texas observatories to regulate outdoor lighting that is located in unincorporated areas (outside city limits).


House bill 01-1160 is a bill concerning the energy-efficient standards for certain new outdoor lighting fixtures funded by the state. It is very similar to the Pennsylvania legislation in terms of requirements and exemptions.


SB 5X Outdoor Lighting Standards: In April of 2001, in response to the California energy crisis, the California Legislature and Governor Davis passed and signed Senate Bill 5X (Sher, Chapter 7, 1st Extraordinary Session, Statutes of 2001), part of which requires the California Energy Commission to adopt energy efficiency standards for outdoor lighting.

The Commission intends to develop and adopt lighting standards for all outdoor lighting applications, including all non-conditioned areas that are not already subject to existing California Standards. Such lighting includes but is not limited to lighting in unconditioned buildings, lighting that is mounted on the exterior of buildings, lighting that is exterior to buildings but controlled from the electrical panel of the building, and lighting that is not controlled from a building. Examples of outdoor lighting include lighting in unconditioned warehouses and other unconditioned building spaces, lighting for parking lots, signage and advertising, car lots, and service stations, street and highway lighting and other outdoor lighting systems.

The 2005 Building Energy Efficiency Standards—(Including SB 5X Outdoor Lighting Standards) is the formal rulemaking phase of the project to develop the 2005 Building Energy Efficiency Standards in response to AB 970 (statutes of 2000) and SB 5X (statutes of 2001; outdoor lighting building standards). The updated standards (express terms) are proposed to be adopted by the Commission in the fall of 2003 and take effect in 2005.

Other States

In addition Maryland has proposed the Maryland Outdoor Lighting Study Bill to enact a lighting taskforce in the state and Georgia has proposed legislation to enact special lighting controls on 'dark sky preserves' in the state.

Massachusetts state legislature is considering a bill directing cities and towns to construct or revise ordinances to directing the state to adopt full-cut-off fixtures for state-funded outdoor lighting. This bill has wording very similar to that on a bill passed into law by the State of Maine's legislature, in which all state-funded new and replacement outdoor lighting must be fully-shielded fixtures so that no light is emitted above the horizontal.


Two of Spain's seventeen regional governments—Catalonia and the Canary Islands—have enacted legislation to tackle light pollution, but there is no national legislation.

Canary Islands

Legislation was introduced to protect and optimise conditions around the Astrophysics Institute's observatories. The general concept of light pollution was introduced via legislation in 1988, with more detail added in 1992. The Astrophysics Institute's Office for the Protection of the Quality of the Sky aims to ensure the law is respected.


The legislation was introduced with general environmental protection aims, and to meet energy efficiency criteria. The law dates from 2001.

In both regions, laws rely more on type and position of light source rather than measurement of emissions. Infringement is punishable by administrative fine (which in the case of Catalonia can range from 150 Euros up to 30,000 Euros).

Bisei, Japan

The Optical Environmental Disruption (Light Pollution) Prevention Ordinance in Bisei, enacted on 22 November 1989, was the first regulation in Japan to deal with light pollution.

The ordinance was motivated by plans to establish the Bisei Astronomical Observatory (BAO), one of the largest public observatories in Japan. The main purpose of the ordinance is to advocate the prevention of light pollution by the Town of Bisei, its citizens and private firms, while guaranteeing a level of lighting necessary for daily life.

The main points covered by the ordinance are:

  • Adequate but minimum lighting - citizens should try to keep outdoor lighting to a minimum, whilst ensuring it is still adequate. All outdoor lights should be turned off after 10:00pm, except particularly important lights, including safety lights.
  • Cooperation with astronomical observation - citizens are asked to comply with extra restrictions on the use of outdoor lighting when there are academically important astronomical observations being undertaken in the town or neighbouring regions.
  • Subsidies for light pollution preventive measures - notably, the Town will provide subsidies amounting to up to 2/3 of the total expenses incurred for installing, remodelling or exchanging lighting or other apparatus which result in a reduction in light pollution.

Bisei uses the International Astronomical Union (IAU) guidance that the brightness of the night sky should not exceed 10% of the natural condition, and has therefore set itself the goal of keeping the night sky brightness within 10% of the natural condition. But the implementation of the ordinance does not rely on the measurement of light, but on compliance with various specified standards for outside lighting, outlined below:

  • Shading of the outdoor lights - outdoor lighting should not emit light higher than a horizontal level. In case of lighting on buildings or signboards, light sources should be installed at the top.
  • Light sources - the use of low-pressure sodium lamps for outdoor lighting is recommended. These are less harmful to astronomical observation. Since low-pressure sodium lamps use a smaller volume of electric power, they are also more energy efficient.
  • Use of floodlight projectors - Where search lights, spotlights or lasers are continuously used outdoors, it is forbidden to use appliances which project light higher than a horizontal level.
  • Shading of indoor lights - business establishments consuming a large quantity of light are advised to keep light from leaking outside by using curtains and blinds, etc.

Action taken by other local Japanese governments

Following Bisei town's example, 6 other administrative districts in Japan have launched similar ordinances on light pollution:

Matsuyama city, Ehime Prefecture
Takayama village, Gunma Prefecture
Hirakata city, Osaka Prefecture
Okayama Prefecture
Saga Prefecture
Kumamoto Prefecture

These new ordinances are based on that enacted by Bisei and thus rely on controlling the type of lights installed rather than measurements of light emitted.

Action taken by central government (Ministry of the Environment)

Most of the activity to control light pollution in Japan has been initiated and enforced at the local level. But the Central Government, through the Japanese Ministry of the Environment has also produced various documents aimed at promoting the prevention of light pollution:

  • Development of Guidelines:The Ministry of the Environment published its first guidelines on the prevention of light pollution in March 1998. These guidelines outline the problems caused by light pollution and stipulate measures for minimising light pollution, particularly when installing outdoor lighting facilities.
  • Manual for planning the lighting of an environment: In June 2000, the Japanese government produced a manual to be used as part of the planning process for lighting a local area, aimed at minimising light pollution while ensuring a level of lighting necessary for daily life.
  • Guidebook: In September 2001, the Ministry issued a more detailed guidebook on light pollution legislation. In addition to again outlining the problems caused by light pollution and possible countermeasures, the guidebook also reviews existing ordinances and legislation in Japan and elsewhere is the world (including Lombardy City, Italy and Arizona) and on the basis of this provides advice on activities which might be initiated for controlling light pollution.

Calgary, Canada

The "Enviro Smart Streetlights" Retrofit Project

The project aims to replace street lighting to full cut off lighting. The principal driver of the project was to reduce energy consumption and save money. The environmental benefits such as reducing light pollution, CO2 emissions reduction, etc, although very important, were secondary.

The Roads Business Unit was looking for efficiencies in the streetlight system when the asset was transferred from the utility to the City in 1998. The City considered it was excessively lit and, following electricity prices increases in 2001 and in the light of the Kyoto Accord initiative, it was considered the right time to implement this project. The initiative originated at Business Unit Level and was approved by a Committee of the City Council.

  • The City is retrofitting the following road lighting systems to meet minimum IES levels:
    Residential local roads: 200W and 150W dropped lens cobraheads to 100W, flat lens fixtures.
  • Collector roads: 250W and 200W dropped lens cobraheads to 150W, flat lens fixtures.
  • Many other municipalities are already at minimum light levels based on the wattage of the fixture and height and distance apart on their light poles. Calgary was over-lit and based on light analysis, the Council determined that lower wattages could be retrofit at the same locations without adding poles to meet minimum recommended light levels established by IES. Each municipality must do the engineering analysis to determine if a fixture retrofit is feasible or not. It was considered that replacing or adding poles would greatly add to costs and would not provide a reasonable payback.

Currently, in the NW areas of Calgary, 10,400 lights have been refitted, and in the North East areas 8,000 lights have been refitted. The remaining quadrants are being designed, but the total City wide figure for replacement is estimated to be 33,000 fixtures.

It has been estimated that the retrofit project will pay for itself in energy savings within three and a half to four years.

210   The information was provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Science and Technology Network. Back

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Prepared 6 October 2003