- Light pollution is to become a statutory offence, enabling
people to take on neighbours whose lights stop them from sleeping.
- Under a Bill published yesterday, anyone who finds that
artificial light emitting from premises is "prejudicial to health
or a nuisance" will be able to complain to the council.
- If the offender takes no action, he or she could face
fines of up to £50,000.
- The inclusion of the offence of light pollution in the
Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Bill represents a triumph for countryside
campaigners and astronomers who have lobbied for more than 15 years to
keep the skies dark.
- Tom Oliver, the head of rural policy at the Campaign
to Protect Rural England, said: "This is a great day for everyone
who values the quality of the environment.
- "At last people will be able to fight back against
distracting lighting. For too long it has blighted their lives.
- "Our campaign against light pollution inspired a
wave of protest at the anti-social nature of so much external lighting
which is destroying our views of the stars. We are delighted that the Government
is legislating for this."
- However, many premises, including some of the worst offenders
such as airports and bus stations, will be exempt. Street lighting will
- Mr Oliver said: "We are committed to working with
the Government to ensure that as many sources of intrusive lighting as
possible are covered in the legislation."
- The Clean Neighbourhoods Bill is a portmanteau piece
of legislation giving all sorts of new powers to councils and the Environment
- It allows parish councils to impose fixed penalties,
which they will be able to set themselves, for litter, dog fouling and
- It will give local authorities powers to tow away abandoned
cars immediately, instead of ticketing them and waiting for 24 hours.
- The Bill will also allow council officials to enter premises
to turn off nuisance burglar alarms. If necessary, they will be able to
break in, although they must first seek a warrant from a magistrate.
- Fixed penalty notices can also be handed out to pubs
and clubs which ignore warnings that they are too loud.
- The Environment Agency will be able to impose spot fines
- Westminster observers say it is no coincidence that Tony
Blair has chosen to concentrate on neighbourhoods in an election year.
- Margaret Beckett, the Environment Secretary, said: "People
want to live in communities that are not blighted by litter, graffiti and
fly posters and we should not have to tolerate the anti-social behaviour
that leads to abandoned, burnt-out cars."
- But waste experts say the Government is still a long
way from controlling the problem of abandoned cars, caused by the falling
price of scrap and the cost of complying with EU environmental legislation.
- © Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2004.