LuxLive heard an impassioned call from Dominic Meyrick, partner at Hoare Lea, for lighting professionals to do more tackle light spill, trespass and pollution at night.
In a presentation entitled “Play Nicely – the art of lighting at night”, Meyrick outlined how light pollution and skyglow have become major issues within our urban nightscapes.
He emphasised that light at night was, of course, important for a myriad of reasons: for safety, for work, for movement, and for leisure. And, for lighting professionals, the ability to light effectively and responsibly at night was a core skill.
“As a lighting designer, I love to light the night because buildings during the day I have no control about what they look like, what the daylight decides. Whereas at night I can do it myself, I can tell you what it is going to look like. We do it because it is nice, it looks good,” he said.
But with this came a responsibility to take more of a lead on mitigating light pollution, glare, light trespass and encroachment, and skyglow.
“These are the main components of light pollution; these are the things we need to control. I have to accept that fact that we are lighting at night but, by golly, I’m going to try and control this because it is the only thing I can do. The reason why we should consider not lighting at night? Saving the planet. That’s the problem,” Meyrick said.
Meyrick argued that the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environmental Act 2005, which sets out a statutory requirement to control light encroachment and trespass, was “a woeful sanction in my view.”
The penalties needed to be much stiffer, he suggested. “Face a fine of half a million quid; that’ll wake people up. And being banned from turning on artificial light at night for 10 years. When you go through the legislation as to who has actually been prosecuted on this, it is nobody, which is really annoying.”
What therefore could and should lighting professionals do? “For goodness sake, install well,” Meyrick argued.
“Stop lying. That would be a good place to start. Tell people that your light fittings do what they can, but they do not do everything,” he added.
“Stop listening and looking at street lighting recommendations and saying ‘it is all fine’, because it’s not. You know it and I know it. For goodness sake, if you care about the planet, stop being selfish. It is our planet. Your kids are going to live with the decisions that you make. It is, I get it, an absolutely overwhelming issue but it has to start with us.
“It makes a difference. Do what you can where you can. Stop the LED claims. ‘LED is going to save us’ – it isn’t! Remember that LED energy consumption is now the norm. We could use lower light levels, like they’re doing in the Middle East. We could control our light a lot better. And – perhaps controversially – we could even consider no light,” Meyrick argued.