Clause 102 - Statutory nuisance: lighting

Part of Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 8:55 am on 1st February 2005.

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Photo of Ms Sue Doughty Ms Sue Doughty Shadow Minister (the Environment), Environment, Food & Rural Affairs 8:55 am, 1st February 2005

Thank you for your guidance, Mr. Forth.

Certainly, we support anything that would mitigate a new source of street lighting, which is an enormous cause of nuisance. It pollutes the night sky and creates red glow. Increasingly, good design is reducing that problem.

I referred on Second Reading to my visit to Gatwick airport, which has started to consider the light that it emits. That was a very positive experience because, although in areas such as car parks adequate lighting was needed for people's safety, there was no need for 500,000 neon bulbs across the whole of the airport. Phasing those out and bringing in renewable energy that gave out softer lighting and reduced light pollution was extremely welcome.

We have real problems with light pollution. The National Society for Clean Air and the Campaign to Protect Rural England both support measures to ensure that the places exempted still have to make a reasonable effort to limit light pollution. We need the energy efficiency; a ridiculous amount of energy is burned up by excessive lighting. Artificial lighting is a nuisance, and that needs to be said. However, we ought to make sure that when a statutory undertaking emits a large amount of light, there are codes of practice that it has to adhere to. The list of exemptions could have the perverse effect of implying that the issue does not matter for organisations such as airports or ports and that they can emit however much light they like. The Minister is shaking his head; I look forward to hearing his argument.

We welcome the measures being taken by the Government on light pollution, because it is such a nuisance. We are losing our night skies. In some ways, there do not seem to be the same grounds for exemption for organisations such as airports and ports; they do not have to conform as ordinary citizens have to in managing what they do.

During the Second Reading debate, we talked about freight depots and ports. Poole ferry terminal is visible from 30 miles out into the English channel; the light can even be seen from below the horizon. Why is that necessary? There are areas in which there are considerations of national security and public safety, and they are legitimate concerns. People recognise that security is of paramount importance. However, the Campaign to Protect Rural England has been asking how we can work with the Government. The Campaign for Dark Skies says that we need to recognise that light pollution is taking place.

The clause is important. What would happen in the case of existing sites—trading estates, for example? I used to live near a mini trading estate, with a wood yard and a couple of other things, that was dark at night. This week I have suddenly found that there is a   Renault garage close to my home. It blares light across an area of semi-rural countryside that formerly did not even have street lights. What will happen to existing legislation? Will the Bill give more opportunity for councils to take note of residents' complaints? The residents understood that the Renault garage was coming, but not that there would be a ridiculous amount of light through the evening and from midnight until dawn.