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Understanding Statutory Light Nuisance Claims in England

In the realm of property rights and neighbourly disputes, few things can be as disruptive as unwanted light pouring into your home from a neighbouring property. Whether it’s a glaring floodlight or an incessantly lit billboard, excessive artificial light can significantly impact the enjoyment of your property.

In England, statutory light nuisance claims are governed by the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the common law principle of nuisance. The Environmental Protection Act 1990 provides statutory powers to local authorities to take action against statutory nuisances, including artificial light that causes a nuisance.

Here’s how a statutory light nuisance claim might proceed in England:

  1. Identification of Nuisance: The affected party must first establish that the artificial light constitutes a statutory nuisance. This typically involves demonstrating that the light is excessive, unreasonable, and causing a significant interference with the enjoyment of their property. This can be done by help of an independent light expert who may be able to assess if the light levels being received at your Property exceed the statutory tolerance level.
  2. Notification to Local Authority: If the affected party believes they are experiencing a statutory light nuisance, they can report the issue to their local authority’s environmental health department. The local authority should then investigate the complaint to determine whether the light constitutes a statutory nuisance.
  3. Investigation: The local authority will conduct an investigation to assess the impact of the light on the affected property and determine whether it meets the legal criteria for a statutory nuisance. This may involve site visits, measurements of light intensity, and consideration of factors such as the duration and timing of the light.
  4. Enforcement Action: If the local authority determines that the light constitutes a statutory nuisance, they have the power to take enforcement action against the person responsible for the nuisance. This may include serving an abatement notice requiring the offending party to take steps to abate the nuisance, such as reducing the intensity of the light or installing shielding.
  5. Legal Proceedings: If the person responsible for the nuisance fails to comply with the abatement notice served by the council, the local authority may pursue legal proceedings in court to seek a remedy. This could include obtaining a court order requiring the person to abate the nuisance, as well as seeking financial penalties for non-compliance.

Other options

If light measurements by an independent expert or the local authority results in a finding that the light pollution is not sufficient to amount to statutory nuisance then there are other steps which can be advanced such as:

  1. Communication: Approach your neighbour in a friendly and non-confrontational manner. They may not be aware that their outdoor lights are causing a problem. Politely explain the issue and suggest possible solutions
  2. Offer Solutions: Instead of just complaining about the problem, offer constructive solutions. This could include installing motion sensor lights that only turn on when someone is nearby, using shields or baffles to direct the light downward, or simply turning off the lights when they’re not needed.
  3. Use Legal Recourse if Necessary: If communication fails or the situation is not resolved satisfactorily, you may need to explore legal options. Check yours and your neighbour’s title documentation for covenants regarding light pollution, outdoor lighting, peaceful enjoyment and nuisance. In some areas, there are specific regulations that dictate the brightness and direction of outdoor lighting.
  4. Install Shields or Redirectors: If your neighbour’s lights are excessively bright or shining directly into your property, you can install shields or redirectors on your property to block the light. This could be as simple as planting trees or installing fences or barriers.
  5. Seek Mediation: If communication with your neighbour breaks down, you may consider seeking mediation through a third party, such as a community mediator or homeowner association. A mediator can help facilitate a constructive dialogue and find a compromise that satisfies both parties.
  6. Educate Others: Consider raising awareness about light pollution in your community. Host informational sessions or distribute flyers explaining the effects of light pollution and how individuals can reduce their impact. Sometimes, people are more willing to make changes when they understand the broader implications of their actions.

It’s important to note that statutory light nuisance claims in England are subject to the specific provisions of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the principles of common law nuisance, and the process may vary depending on the circumstances of each case. Individuals affected by statutory light nuisance should seek legal advice to understand their rights and options for addressing the issue effectively.

Next steps

Contact our Property Disputes experts with your evidence and concerns for us to assess the merits of your case and advise on the next steps so that you can re-claim the peaceful sanctuary of your own home again. Call now on 0808 271 9413 or request a call back.

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