Why does it affect me?

Light pollution is directly effecting people all over the UK. There are many nationally reported cases of light nuisance and encrochment, glare and dazzle on roads, and health issues all caused by light pollution and not least, because it is our taxpayers money that is lighting up the night sky. (articles available from CfDS web site)

A 1 kW light that is left on all night long every night causes the release of 40 tons of carbon dioxide per year into the atmosphere.
In the UK, two power stations worth of energy are being thrown into the sky every year.

The sky is a precious, natural and educational resource for all, and an undoubted area of special scientific interest. However, much of the ground thus gained in the move towards winning back the stars for our descendants will be lost again if the installation of poorly-aimed, intrusive and all-night security lighting continues.

Everybody has the right to experience the night sky. The Universe is in a very real sense part of our natural heritage, without it we would lose the majestic beauty of the night skies and the scientific and cultural inspiration this has provided since ancient times. The night sky once was an “area of outstanding natural beauty” but there has been no legislative protection to guard against light pollution.

Skyglow effects both man and animals in many adverse ways. It is a form of pollution that can be easily prevented. In fact, it is the only form of pollution that costs less to cure than it does to perpetuate.

One very life threatening aspect of light pollution concerns sailors and navigation on the sea. Lights from the shore block any chance of seeing navigation lights marking safe passages, deep water channels, and rocks. Click here to view a PowerPoint Presentation on this issue.

Woman stands in the shadow under a globe light unseen (IDA)
Woman stands under a globe light easily seen (IDA)

The photos above show how the globe lamp lights up the trees and surrounding area, but fails to illuminate the ground below. Can you see where the woman is standing in the left photo?

The photo to the left shows the M5 motorway in England, in the middle of being upgraded from Low Pressure Sodium lamps to High Pressure Sodium Full Cut Off lamps. The glare and skyglow caused by the old LPS lamps is clearly seen and you can also make out the skyglow on the clouds above. The HPS FCO lamps have been installed in the right lane but are yet to be installed in the left lane.
The photo above shows the M5 motorway in England, in the middle of being upgraded from Low Pressure Sodium lamps to High Pressure Sodium Full Cut Off lamps. The glare and skyglow caused by the old LPS lamps is clearly seen and you can also make out the skyglow on the clouds above. The HPS FCO lamps have been installed in the right lane but are yet to be installed in the left lane.
M1 relit with FCO and skyglow from original units (Urbis)
The photograph above is of the M1 motorway in England which was relit with HPS FCO lamps. The well directed light of the FCO lamps contrasts clearly with the original units which can be seen glowing in the distance.
Glare from illuminated driving range Iford (Bob Mizon)
How many times have you driven past a golf driving range and been dazzled by the lights? Driving ranges, cricket grounds, sports grounds, car showrooms, filling stations and industrial units are all culprits of bad lighting, but many have been approached and changes have been made. Local residents need to act are they are the ones directly affected by light nuisance and encroachment.
Durrington Leisure Centre with original and new FCOs. Again, this photo was taken in the middle of upgrading and shows how glare and skyglow have been eliminated with the use of properly installed FCOs.
Durrington Leisure Centre with original and new FCOs. Again, this photo was taken in the middle of upgrading and shows how glare and skyglow have been eliminated with the use of properly installed FCOs.

Fillingstation forecrt FCO -Rensselaer Poly Inst Ltg Res Ltd
Fillingstation forecrt orig -Rensselaer Poly Inst Ltg Res Ltd

Which filling station would you rather fill up at? As you can see, the removal of glare, the warmer temperature of the light and the much more efficient reflector in these FCO light fittings are beneficial to the customer as well as being better for the environment. Sales went up 40% after these more efficient and zero-glare lights were installed.

Light and Crime

Fear of increased crime is the most significant concern expressed by people when asked about reducing light pollution. It is commonly believed that nighttime lighting reduces crime, yet studies of crime conclude primarily that only our fear of crime is reduced.

The belief that lighting reduces crime is widely held and this and related issues have been examined in many places over the past few decades with some surprising results.

A test in West Sussex, UK showed crime went up in lit areas. In certain test areas, all-night lighting was installed; other areas were kept as control areas. West Sussex Police monitored the crime patterns for comparison with the previous year in both test and control areas and polled residents about their perceptions and the effects of the all-night lighting.

Polling results confirmed people thought lighting prevents crime and most residents felt safer after the all-night lights were installed. Crime statistics, though, showed a 55% increase in crime in the test areas as compared to the control areas and to the county as a whole! West Sussex has subsequently decided against all-night lighting.

And there’s another surprise: Police report that such darkness is often safer. That’s partly because neighbours soon learn to alert police if they see any lights on in a building. There’s even less graffiti because it’s usually lighted walls that attract the spray-can vandals, not dark ones.

“Security” Lighting

example of badly directed lighting causing glare
example of badly directed lighting causing glare

Lighting supposedly militates against crime because it enhances surveillance. Lighting that draws attention to would-be crimes might be a deterrent, as long as there are potential witnesses. Motion-sensor activated lights, with a short duration, will do this much better than lights that are left on constantly (this is the same logic as the common auto alarm-it turns on to call our attention to a potential problem and to startle the would-be criminal). However, lighting, accompanied by public vigilance (i.e. looking out for your neighbours) and greater police presence may be more effective.

A whole industry has sprung up around “security” lighting, feeding on the public’s fear of darkness, foisting poorly designed, glare-prone, overly bright light fixtures on a public that has blended its justifiable concern for property and personal safety with a misplaced fear of darkness. Feelings about darkness are so entrenched that the words “security lighting” are accepted unquestionably as a positive description of these light fixtures.

goodinsecuritylight
The light is illuminating the ground and not causing glare though you can clearly see the power is too high
poorinsecuritylight
Poorly angled light obscures visibility due to harsh shadows and the source of the light being visible.

“Security” lighting is primarily about making the purchasers feel better – not necessarily improving their odds with criminals. For these reasons, the design of “security” lights involves the use of glary bulbs – people need to see the light bulb in order for it to make them feel safer. Not BE safer, but FEEL safer. If the bulb was hidden and unobtrusive (as it would be in a responsibly designed light fixture) and of a much lower brightness than what are provided with most “security” lights, it would provide better illumination. It would do so by not forcing our pupils to constrict and by not creating strong contrasts in the amount of light in one part of the yard to another. Responsible illumination can enhance surveillance – which does have an impact on crime and safety.

Light can have an impact on crime only if someone is likely to be watching.

In summary, “security” lights do not replace human vigilance. “Security” lights can create a false sense of security, and poorly designed “security” lights can obscure criminal activity, both of which may ultimately be detrimental to a person’s safety.

So, how can I make a difference?

Promoting the proper use of exterior public and private lighting to reduce light pollution