Light nuisance

Artificial light is an important part of modern life. The increased use of lighting, however, can cause problems. Light in the wrong place at the wrong time can be intrusive.

There has been an increase in complaints about lighting to local authorities in recent years.

What is Light pollution?

Light pollution is probably best described as artificial light that is allowed to illuminate, or intrude upon, areas not intended to be lit. We do not have specific powers to deal with general light pollution, but has legal powers to tackle certain specific problems.

Light nuisances covered under the statutory nuisance law

Artificial light from sources such as street lighting, domestic and commercial security lighting, advertising lighting, car parks, sports stadiums, domestic decorative lighting, exterior lighting of buildings, laser shows, sky beams and even temporary works such as road works are included where the light is causing nuisance.

Excluded are:

  • Direct or reflected sunlight or moonlight
  • Lighthouses 
  • Crown estates
  • Armed Forces / Crown property.

What can you do if you have a problem with light nuisance?

Firstly, approach the owner of the lighting. Often the remedy is quite simple. A minor adjustment may be all that is required, or maybe an agreement about when lights should be turned on or off.

If the owner of the lighting is unwilling to remedy the situation to your satisfaction, you have two options:

  • Consider taking a private legal action under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
  • Contact us. We will investigate your complaint.

Determining if your complaint is a statutory nuisance

When an officer investigates complaints about light pollution, they will need to determine whether the light pollution is a statutory nuisance. This will normally be done through evening site visits.

More generally,the officer will take into account the impact, locality, the time, frequency, duration, convention, importance and avoidability of the light source. The situation will be assessed in line with the relevant Scottish Government Guidance to Accompany the Statutory Nuisance Provisions of the Public Health etc (Scotland) Act 2008.

Mitigation Measures If it is decided that there is a problem with light pollution, there are a number of mitigation measures that will be suggested:

  • Switching the light source off
  • Hours of the light source limited
  • Better aiming of the light source
  • Replacing the fitting(s) with lower power items
  • Fitting of shields or baffles
  • Design and planting of landscape screening or fencing

Development Control

Some developments require planning permission. If you have concerns over the potential lighting impact of a development, you should contact the Council's Planning Service.