Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Artificial light nuisance

Artificial light nuisance

Artificial lighting from your business could be considered a nuisance. If it is, your local council could serve you with an abatement notice and you could be liable to pay a fixed penalty or prosecuted if you do not comply. You must find ways to avoid causing a nuisance from artificial lighting.

Good practice

Avoid artificial light nuisances

Plan the lighting for your site to ensure lights only come on when they are needed. A lighting plan can reduce your energy costs as well as reducing the risk of nuisance to your neighbours.

You should:

  • position lights so you only need to use the minimum number of lights
  • dim or switch off lights when they are not required
  • use baffles, shields and louvres to reduce obtrusive light
  • use lights that switch off automatically when natural light is available or when they are not required, eg using motion detectors.

Angle your lights downwards or use light fittings that reduce light shining upwards. The ideal angle of lighting is less than 70 degrees from the vertical. Lights that shine upwards are more likely to cause a nuisance, waste money and create light pollution.

Check that security lights do not produce excessive glare which could affect drivers or neighbours. Only use the amount of lighting you need. Lights that are too strong can create dark shadows, which could encourage theft or vandalism on your site. Consider using security lights that are activated by movement. However, check that they are only triggered by humans and not animals.

Further information

Scottish Government: Controlling light pollution

In this Guideline

Types of nuisance

Good practice to avoid causing nuisance

Noise and vibration nuisances

Odour, dust and smoke nuisances

Litter nuisances

Artificial light nuisance

Construction site nuisances

Environmental legislation for nuisances

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