Memorandum from Robert Ince
As an amateur astronomer of some 30 years, I
am writing to you to request that your committee recommends legislation
that can help stop the growth (and maybe even reduce the existing
effects) of light pollution in the UK.
It is sad that growing sky glow that arises
from a combination of artificial light emitted directly into the
sky from light fittings and light reflected up into the sky from
buildings and the ground means that new generations of children
will simply not experience the wonders of a clear, dark night
sky. I remember the joy I had when I started in Astronomy, being
able to wonder at the depth and complexity of the night skya
wonder that started me into a career of science that has sustained
me for all these years. The sadness is made worse when it is my
own young children that can not even see the likes of the Milky
Way without the use of telescopes and other expensive equipment.
One of the ironies is that is the plethora of
poorly designed security lighting, both residential and commercial,
that is contributing to this loss of our night skies. The fact
that these lights are ostensibly there to improve perceived security
is at odds to the fact that areas of high lighting actually make
it more attractive to criminals (high contrast shadows, the ability
to see the intended target etc) . . .
It is even more ironic that the design of such
lighting is wasteful in energy, casting much of the generated
light into areas not intended or needed to be lit. It is estimated
that the use of such poorly designed lighting is wasting between
30 and 50% of its energy costs by radiating above the horizontal.
Given that it is estimated that there are some six million streetlights
alone in the UK, this wastage is a substantial cost and contribution
to the greenhouse gas emissions.
Contributions from advertising and shop signs
left on all night may be smaller but should not be ignored.
Whilst existing guidelines do allow lighting
issues to be considered as part of planning applications etc,
I believe it would be much more beneficial to move the existing
lighting issue into a legislative contextpotentially under
a modification of the existing laws on nuisance and antisocial
I believe you should be considering:
Government planning guidance on when
and how to control lighting in order to reduce light pollution
and energy waste.
Local authority planning policies
which protect unlit landscapes and countryside and which control
lighting in new development.
Light pollution recognised as a statutory
nuisance, similar to noise pollution.
Full assessment of lighting proposals
in roads and other development schemes.
Local authorities to review the impact
of existing lighting and with lighting engineers to put forward
schemes to reduce this impact.
Recognition by the Department of
Transport that mechanisms other than lighting have a role in reducing
Guidance for planners, highway authorities
and developers on the most efficient and effective lighting systems,
in particular systems which limit upward light.
Information for the public on minimising
intrusive lighting through the use of low intensity, sensoror
time controlled and well-directed domestic lighting systems.
All new domestic outdoor lighting
systems to include information on correct installation to minimise