From the 6 April 2006, the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 added a new section to the definition of statutory nuisance contained within the Environmental Protection Act 1990, to include: "artificial light emitted from premises so as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance"
There are no set levels of artificial light above which a statutory nuisance is or may be caused, and below which it is not. The Environmental Health Officer will take into account of a range of factors including:
What to consider if you are installing outdoor lighting
If you are installing outdoor lighting, first consider
You may have good reasons to install exterior lighting on your property but a good neighbour will always take steps to prevent it from becoming a nuisance.
Consider your actions carefully to make sure you keep on friendly terms with your neighbours. It is normally possible to set up lights without them upsetting other people.
Odour, fumes and gases
We are able to take action regarding odour, fumes or gases if they are causing a nuisance or are prejudicial to health. For example, excessive odour from a takeaway extract. The usual considerations for statutory nuisance apply, such as the time of day, frequency and duration of incidents, locality and the reasonableness of the activity causing the problem. It should be noted that businesses have a legal defence of 'best practicable means', which means that they can appeal an abatement notice if they have taken all reasonable steps to mitigate the nuisance. Please be aware that we are unable to take action regarding complaints of domestic odour, for example cooking or general household smells. However, if the odour is caused by an accumulation of refuse or another smelly substance we can potentially assist.
Accumulations or deposits
We can take action for accumulations or deposits if they are having a direct impact on nearby residents. For example, an accumulation of refuse in a residential garden that is causing an odour nuisance or flies at neighbouring properties is covered by the nuisance legislation. However, a large pile of inert waste such as building rubble or timber, or miscellaneous items, will be an eyesore and source of annoyance to neighbours, but will not constitute a statutory nuisance.
Close your eyes, or imagine the accumulation is hidden behind a fence or wall. If it is still impacting you directly it is likely to be a statutory nuisance. If not, it is unlikely that we can take formal action, although we may informally contact the person responsible depending on the circumstances.
Other nuisance categories
Other categories of statutory nuisance include insects, the keeping of animals and the state of premises. Again, they must be causing a nuisance directly to you at your home or be prejudicial to health. For example, we cannot take action against a person keeping animals in a residential garden unless they are having a direct impact on neighbours.
Some of these issues are also covered under the other nuisance categories, for example noise from a cockerel persistently crowing or flies caused by an accumulation of waste.
The usual considerations of frequency and duration of events, time of day, locality and reasonableness will apply when the officer looks at your complaint.
If in any doubt whether an issue can be investigated please contact the Environmental Protection team for advice.
More information and guidance
For further information and guidance please contact:
Institution of Lighting Engineers (ILE) www.theilp.org.uk/documents/obtrusive-light/
Department of Food, the Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) www.gov.uk/local-environmental-quality#nuisance-from-noise-light-or-insects