Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence

Memorandum from the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, submitted by Graham Jukes, Chief Executive

  I am writing in response to the Committee's call for evidence in respect of Light Pollution and attach a copy of a paper I presented in my former role at the Chartered Institute, to a Department of the Environment sponsored seminar held in London on 25 November1996.(not printed) Further information about the outcomes of the seminar might be sought from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister or Defra.

  The paper reports the results of two surveys conducted by the CIEH amongst Local Authorities in 1993 and 1996 on the incidents of complaints from the general public about intrusive lighting. It notes that between the two surveys, the number of complaints received by the responding Local Authorities increased by 44%. The numbers of complaints, absolutely and in comparison with noise for example, were nevertheless small.

  We concluded at the time that while an argument for a statutory remedy could be advanced, more direct action in respect of planning controls or information and advice by manufacturers and installation engineers would be more effective in reducing the incidents of complaints. This seemed particularly so since the majority of complaints concerned floodlighting in commercial or sporting contexts rather than domestic ones.

  The CIEH has not carried out any further work in this area since those surveys and our current position remains the same ie:

  (i)  That it is not clear that "nuisance" lighting is a widespread problem nor, in the absence of any qualitative data, that it is a serious one of other, usually, than aesthetic concern. That is to say that while we accept it may occasionally be intrusive and people affected may not like it, we know of no evidence that it actually does them real harm, nor does it cost them anything.

  (ii)   In this respect, it is arguably of less importance than the problem of "high hedges" which Parliament is currently considering. Like that, before any statutory power were introduced to control it, better research on the extent and effects of intrusive lighting is needed. If, consequently, a power did come to be introduced, we think it would be difficult to apply for technical reasons.

  (iii)  Notwithstanding, it must be accepted that the priority in dealing with such complaints by Local Authorities will be weighed against the more serious problems they deal with.

  (iv)  More effective advice and guidance on installation, fitting and use of lighting is likely to be, in our view, a more effective tool in reducing the instance of complaints from intrusive lighting.

  The Chartered Institute is always happy to provide support to Parliamentary Committees if our contribution can be of assistance to their deliberations. In view of the fact that we have no current or ongoing work in this area and the information we base our current position on is some seven years old, however, I feel that we may not be able to provide the support you require to form a contemporary and accurate view.

18 July 2003

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