Light shining into your property can be a nuisance and is best described as artificial light that illuminates or intrudes on areas not intended to be lit. 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."
The Borough Council has no legal powers over general light pollution, for example 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 think about the following:
- Is the lighting necessary?
- Consider the hours or time of day that the lighting is on.
- Can the lights be adjusted to only illuminate the area required?
- Can the lights be directed downwards rather than shining horizontally?
Making a Complaint
In the first instance if you are being disturbed by light from a neighbouring property, approach them and explain that the lighting is intruding into your property. It is always better to resolve the matter informally if possible.
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, including the duration and frequency of the light nuisance.