We know in stark contrast to the comprehensive legislation covering air, noise and water pollution, powers to control and prevent light pollution are very limited and highly discretionary. Decisions on new lighting are piecemeal, where lots of individual, cumulative additional lighting is being added on a daily basis, causing ever increasing sky glow light pollution.(1)

A French Decree and Regulation passed in 2018 applies to all outdoor lighting installations. This sets for the first time meaningful national regulations: “… designed to prevent, limit and reduce light pollution, including excessive disturbance to persons, fauna, flora or ecosystems, causing energy wastage or preventing observation of the night sky.”(2)

The regulations are being phased in from the 1 January this year, and compliance with all of the Decree’s provisions is mandatory by the start of 2025.

Bob Mizon, Coordinator at the UK Commission for Dark Skies (CfDS)(3) says:

“Since the 1950s, as the night sky began to be eroded by poor quality lighting, guidelines from lighting professionals, environmental campaigners and astronomers have failed to solve the problems that stray light causes in both the night sky and the terrestrial environment. Opportunities involving the new LED lights, which could have gone a long way towards a solution, have been missed. Our best hope is in legislation on the French model, and efficient enforcement of it.”

Jack Ellerby, Cumbria’s Dark Skies Project Officer, attended the newly established Dark Sky Areas liaison group for England and Wales at the beginning of August. Working with partners, such as CPRE The Countryside Charity, the CfDS and the Institute for Lighting Professionals, the group will look at strengthening national guidance for light pollution to improve clarity, consistency and promote better practice for dark sky compliant lighting.

(1). https://www.friendsofthelakedistrict.org.uk/powers-to-limit-light-pollution

(2). See: https://www.darksky.org/france-light-pollution-law-2018/

(3). CfDS website: https://britastro.org/dark-skies/index.php