Home > Light Pollution > Shedding Light: a Survey of Local Authority Approaches to Lighting in England

Shedding Light: a Survey of Local Authority Approaches to Lighting in England

Last Friday 25 April 2014 the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) released a report (pdf) entitled “Shedding Light: a Survey of Local Authority Approaches to Lighting in England”, that addresses the growing problem of light pollution in rural areas.

Light pollution from towns and cities spreads a long way, lighting the sky up and spoiling the view of the stars even in areas with few or no lights of their own. However that’s only the tip of the iceberg. According to CPRE:

Street lighting in England costs councils approximately £616m per year and can account for up to 30% of their carbon emissions so tackling light pollution will have a triple benefit – cutting costs and carbon too.

Although around one third of councils surveyed were switching lights off between midnight and 5am, when they aren’t needed, and around one half of councils dimming lights at similar times, there is still much more to be done.

Image from the CPRE report: Light pollution of Eastbourne, from Warren Hill

Image from the CPRE report: Light pollution of Eastbourne, from Warren Hill

According to Emma Marrington, CPRE Dark Skies Campaigner:

‘The results of our survey show that many local authorities are taking steps in the right direction to manage lighting more effectively. But much more can be done to encourage all authorities to take this issue more seriously.

‘We urge councils to do more to control lighting in their areas, and ensure that the right lighting is used only where and when it is needed. We often hear concerns that changing street lighting can impact on public safety but our research revealed no evidence to support this. We’re not advocating changes where they’re not appropriate, but why shine bright lights on residential streets, quiet roads and open countryside throughout the night when it’s not needed?

‘Genuine dark starry nights are becoming harder and harder to find which is why councils should take action to control it now. Light pollution blurs the distinction between town and country, ruins the countryside’s tranquil character and denies us the experience of a truly starry sky.’

CPRE ends the report by making nine recommendations:

  1. Light pollution policy All local authorities should have a policy to control light pollution in their Local Plan, in line with the National Planning Policy Framework and the associated National Planning Practice Guidance on light pollution. This should include identifying existing dark areas that need protecting.
  2. Street lighting policy Local authorities should consider  preparing a Street Lighting Policy, which could include Environmental Lighting Zones to ensure that the  appropriate lighting levels are  used in each zone, with very strict requirements applying in identified dark areas.
  3. Part-night lighting schemes We encourage local authorities to investigate how part-night lighting schemes (e.g. switching off between midnight and 5am) or dimming could work in their areas, including examining the cost, energy and carbon savings. This should be done in full consultation with the local community.
  4. LANTERNS research project All local authorities who are switching off or dimming street lighting should monitor crime and accident statistics and consider taking part in the Institution of Lighting Professionals/LANTERNS research project which aims to quantify any effects of changes to street lighting on road traffic accidents and crime.
  5. LED lighting Local authorities should give careful consideration to the type of Light Emitting Diode (LED) lighting they use and consider the potential impacts that higher temperature blue-rich lighting has on ecology and human health.
  6. Targets for replacing lights Local authorities with responsibility for street lighting could set targets for replacing all their street and road lights with less light polluting types, such as full cut off flat glass lamps.
  7. Testing new street lighting New street lighting should be  tested ‘in situ’ before a lighting scheme is rolled out across a wider area to ensure that it is the minimum required for the task and does not cause a nuisance to residents.
  8. Preserving dark skies Local authorities should have a strong presumption against new  lighting in existing dark areas,  unless essential as part of a new development or for public safety reasons that have been clearly demonstrated.
  9. Highways Agency guidance The Highways Agency should review the lighting section of the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges, which is used to design motorway and trunk road lighting, to ensure it remains relevant for local authorities.

The whole report makes for interesting reading, but a few things stand out:

  • only 65% of councils in England have a policy on lighting
  • 87% of these councils said it was a continuation of an existing policy; only 13% had adopted a new policy as a result of the 2012 National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).
  • The top three reasons that councils were switching off  lights at night are:
  1. 95%: Energy Saving
  2. 91%: Cost Saving
  3. 43%: Reduced Light Pollution
  • The top three reasons that councils were switching off  lights at night are:
  1. 97%: Energy Saving
  2. 78%: Cost Saving
  3. 54%: Reduced Light Pollution
  • 11 councils said that dimming schemes had gone largely unnoticed by the community
  • 91% of councils that are switching off lights are continuing to work with local police to monitor local crime statistics
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: