Light shining into your property can be a nuisance. The Clean Neighbourhoods Act creates a new form of legal nuisance namely "artificial light emitted from premises so as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance". Light nuisance is best described as artificial light that illuminates or intrudes on areas not intended to be lit.
The District Council has no legal powers over general light pollution (e.g. of the night sky), only light that is causing a potential nuisance. Complaints are frequently about security lights. Light nuisance does not include light emitted from premises used for transport purposes or where high levels of light are required for safety and security reasons (e.g. street lighting).
The intrusion of light into a habitable room of a neighbouring property can affect their use and enjoyment of that property.
Preventing light nuisance
To minimise the risk of causing a light nuisance to neighbouring properties, please take the following steps:
- Consider if the lighting is necessary
- Consider the hours or time of day that the lighting is on
- Ensure lights are adjusted to only illuminate the area required
- Direct any lights downwards and do not have lights that shine horizontally
Making a complaint
If you are being disturbed by light from a neighbouring property, if possible approach them and explain that their lighting is intruding into your property. Most people will be glad to do what they can informally to ensure they do not cause a nuisance. However, approach the matter carefully if you think your neighbour might react angrily to a complaint.
There is little in the way of formal guidance as to what constitutes legally actionable light nuisance. There is no fixed level which constitutes a statutory nuisance, individual circumstances differ and each case has to be judged on its own merits. We investigate light nuisance in much the same way as we investigate noise complaints.. This is intended to establish whether the problem is sufficiently severe as to warrant legal action by the District Council. This includes considering the duration and frequency of the light nuisance.
If you are unable to resolve the complaint informally with your neighbour, please contact the District Council using the details below. An Officer will investigate your complaint and if they consider the light to be causing a statutory nuisance an abatement notice will be served requiring the problem to be rectified.