FOI request details
12 April 2012
Applicant type: Public
I am concerned about light pollution in our skies, something the SouthEast suffers from terribly. Has the Council ever evaluated the cost of street light provision against its perceived benefit?
For instance, are street lights using efficient and more directed bulbs to reduce glare and "wasted" light being considered? They would also in the long term be more cost effective, thus reducing expenditure while reducing light pollution at the same time. Do Council properties have any guidelines on the use of lighting, such as office lighting being turned off out-of-hours? Are there any guidelines or regulations on commercial premises using excessive sign or building illumination?
Information provided - 25 April 2012
1. 98% of all new street lights in Richmond are a cut off design emitting 0% of upward light.
Richmond's policy is to replace all high pressure sodium street lighting at the end of their useful life, with white light cosmopolis or LED in compliance with EN13201 BS5489 2003 the British and European Road Lighting Standards, this permits the reduction of the lighting design requirements from a maximum of 11.25 lux to 7.5 lux.
The standard residential replacement street lights used in Richmond consume an average of 66 watts compared to the current 87 watts, and those in dedicated pedestrian footpaths are further reduced from 87 watts to 20 watts.
Richmond is proactively reducing their energy consumption whilst at the same time providing a safe night time environment illuminated to the standards recommended by EN13201 BS5489 2003.
2. In regards to Council buildings Energy Policy section F5 states;
Lighting and other electrical equipment
All lighting and other electrical equipment should be switched off when not in use and during out of office hours (with the exception of essential catering and First Aid equipment). Routine maintenance of lighting and other electrical equipment (such as cleaning and lamp replacement; defrosting of coils for fridge freezers) shall be the responsibility of the building / premises manager.
Windows and skylights should be cleaned regularly and kept free of obstruction to maximise use of natural lighting. Similarly, sources of cooling should be isolated or removed from heat-emitting equipment.'
Further, most of our larger buildings and particularly the Twickenham campus now have automated lighting and therefore should be off when not set off by the sensors. Some buildings are however used out of hours and therefore lighting might appear on, for example parts of the Civic Centre.
3. For Planning guidelines on illuminated signs etc please see the LDF Development Management Document attached. The D DC 7 (page 23).
For Environmental Health guidelines, which relate more to security lighting, please note light pollution is not light nuisance. Light pollution is the emission of light into the atmosphere whether it affects someone or not. Light nuisance is as described below;
What Is Light Nuisance?
Section 102 of 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".
However, this does not include light emitted from the following:
Premises used for transport purposes or where high levels of light are required for safety and security reasons, i.e.:
Airports Public service vehicle operating centres
Harbours Goods vehicle operating centres
Bus stations and associated facilities
Premises occupied for Defence purposes
There is also a defence for all trade, industrial, business or outdoor sports facilities that the 'best practicable means' to prevent light pollution is being taken.
What if You Have a Light Nuisance Problem?
There is little in the way of formal guidance as to what constitutes legally actionable light pollution. We investigate light nuisance in much the same way as we investigate noise nuisance. This is intended to establish whether the problem is sufficiently severe as to warrant legal action by the Council. We make this judgement against the following criteria:
The duration of the nuisance (how long does it last for when it happens, seconds, minutes or hours?)
The frequency of the nuisance (how often does it happen, daily, weekly or once in a blue moon?)
The seriousness of the nuisance (does it materially affect someone's use of their house? The usual critical factor is whether it disturbs sleep).The motives behind the action causing the nuisance (is it malicious or does the problem arise from ordinary behaviour?).
The sensitivity of the complainant (is the person who is complaining 'ordinary' or overly sensitive to the light?)
Please note that our responses were accurate to the best of our knowledge at the time of release, and have not subsequently been updated. This information should be considered an historical record only.