Lighting Laws & Policy

Lighting regulations are an important tool for setting reasonable limits on light pollution. IDA-UK supports cities to adopt and enforce policies that call for shielded, downward-pointing lighting, lighting timers and other sensible controls. Doing so conserves energy, lowers costs and carbon emissions and helps to minimize glare, light trespass and skyglow.

Our Policy Goals are to Update the Existing Legislation

From the APPG For Dark Skies Policy Plan:

The existing legal framework regulating light pollution is derived from statute and therefore can only be amended by Parliament. New legislation is therefore likely to be necessary to truly protect the UK’s dark skies and night-time landscape.

1.    Strengthen the National Planning Policy Framework: for the first time ever, make extensive specific reference to the control of obtrusive light in the National Planning Policy Framework.

2.    Expand the scope of the planning permission process: introduce regulations for exterior lighting that are similar to those which currently cover advertisements.

3.    Strengthen Statutory Nuisance Provisions: remove exemptions to give local authorities a more effective method of preventing nuisance lighting. ”   

APPG For Dark Skies
  • For a detailed look at UK laws, head over to the CfDS webpage on lighting law by clicking here.
  • For a more in-depth look at how the APPG for Dark Skies want to change existing legislation click here.
  • The governments light pollution planning page is here.

The IDA/IES Model Lighting Ordinance

In 2011 IDA and the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America approved the Model Lighting Ordinance (MLO), an outdoor lighting template designed to help councils develop outdoor lighting standards that reduce glare, light trespass, and skyglow. The MLO is a valuable guide for environmentally responsible outdoor lighting in the USA that has applications in the UK as well. It encourages the broad adoption of comprehensive outdoor lighting ordinances without burdening cities with the extensive staff time and resources needed to develop their own codes.

The MLO offers several innovations to outdoor lighting regulation, including the use of lighting zones to classify land use with appropriate lighting levels for each. The MLO also makes use of the “BUG” (Backlight, Uplight and Glare) classification of outdoor lighting fixtures to ensure that only well-shielded fixtures are used. The MLO is a useful tool that the IDA-UK uses to support similar lighting changes across the United Kingdom.

What to Consider Regarding LEDs

As many communities move to embrace LED lighting, the landscape of nighttime lighting is changing rapidly and dramatically. While some industry representatives tout these new fixtures as being “dark sky friendly,” that’s not usually the case.

Communities considering switching out their older streetlights for LEDs should read:
Printable LED Information Handout (PDF)
Visibility, Environmental, and Astronomical Issues Associated with Blue-Rich White Outdoor Lighting (PDF)