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.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Alun Michael Alun Michael Minister of State (Rural Affairs), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 8:55 am, 1st February 2005

I share my hon. Friend's concern. I was coming to the situation of sports facilities, which is precisely as he has set out. In the light of these points, I do not think that this clause poses any threat to the floodlighting of sports facilities, and in my view amendments Nos. 104, 105 and 106 are unnecessary.

I have indicated, both last week and again today, that I am aware of the Football Association's concerns on this point. My officials had a useful meeting with the FA last week. The FA said that they were most concerned about the effect restrictions on artificial lighting might have on the provision of new floodlit facilities. The planning process for such facilities, however, already takes full account of the impact of artificial lighting, and enabling local authorities to treat artificial lighting as a statutory nuisance will have no implications for the planning process for new facilities.

Let me underline once more the fact that passing this Bill in its current form, which will enable local authorities to treat artificial lighting as a statutory nuisance, will have no implications for the planning processes for new facilities.

While there is a theoretical possibility that a local authority might try to challenge existing floodlighting on the basis that it was a statutory nuisance, in reality this would be highly unlikely. There is a strong public interest in encouraging community football and sports facilities, and any adverse effects of floodlighting on individuals living near a sports ground will need to be balanced against the interests of all those who use that ground. That is already the situation. In most, if not all, cases I would expect the provider of the floodlighting to be able to make use of the ''best practical means'' defence. It is difficult to envisage that those operating a sports ground would deliberately, for example, aim their floodlights at a particular row of properties. That would be the sort of perversity that anybody would want to see dealt with firmly.

In any event, we will make it clear in the guidance that we do not expect floodlit playing fields and other sports facilities to fall foul of the provision in practice.