Combating and Educating about Light Pollution
Whilst there is always the acknowledgement amongst astronomers and environmental groups that we all need good lighting for purposes of safety, security and amenity, there are many lighting schemes that fall far short of providing good quality lighting schemes and in many instances decrease safety, security and amenity.
These lighting scheme present with particular problems as it is often a requirement of the sport that relatively high illumination levels. Traditionally, sports floodlighting has produced much 'over-spill' lighting and frequently a glow high in the sky above the stadia. This over-spill and light pollution over the stadia are not necessary as floodlighting has now been developed to control the over-spill.
One often finds many people living close to sports pitches where there is a proposal to floodlight the pitch, object to the floodlighting at the planning stage because of the intense over-spill on and into their property. As mentioned above, this problem can be easily designed out. Asymmetric parabolic reflectors mounted with the front plate horizontal to the ground controls all upward and severely restricts off pitch light spill.
In recent years there have been a growth in the popularity of home security lights. These are usually of the 300-500W type. Most people use these to increase security on their homes, however, there is little or no evidence to suggest that the fitting of these light fixtures add any security at all. Further, it has been suggested that because the power (300-5000w) of these fitting is too great, they create deep shadows in which wood-be burglars could hide almost undetected.
The radio presenter Libby Purves coined these lights as 'Rottwieller' lights. A number of security firms are now suggesting that if these are used they should be fitted with Passive Infra-Red (PIR) detectors, and should be angled lower down in order to reduce the 'glare blindness'.
One should consider that in otherwise dark areas, lighting a building can have the effect of drawing attention to themselves and thereby defeating the object of lighting them. Remember ever burglars require light to see what they are doing.
Incidentally, Home Office statistics show that the vast majority of burglaries occur during the day.
On the approach to the millennium, there was a call to illuminate 400 churches. This was partly funded by the church floodlighting commission which, not surprisingly, had strong links with the lighting industry! It was stated that such church floodlighting schemes must have strong local support.
Many churches in rural and semi-rural locations are in relatively dark locations, unfortunately, the floodlighting has a significant effect on the local environment. There are additional problems in this age when many churches are short of cash, these lights need to be paid for and maintained. Remember that a 1000W floodlight uses the same electricity as a 1kw electric heater and often floodlit churches require many of these floodlights.
Many buildings and architectural features are chosen to be floodlight for a variety of reasons. Unfortunately, many buildings are over lit with floodlights and cause a great deal of light pollution as a result. When these buildings and monuments are lit from below there is often over-spill and beams of light end up in the night sky, completely wasting the light.
In recent years we have seen a growth in the use of sky beams used for a variety of purposes. These sky beams are very intrusive and quickly draw ones attention to them. As such, there are a number of people who wish to use them to draw attention to their business premises. There have been a great deal of concern expressed by environmentalists and astronomers over the use of sky beams as they are a great intrusion on the night-time environment. Police forces have expressed concern over their use near trunk roads and motorways because of their distracting nature. Additionally, their use is often associated with business and commercial enterprises for the purposes of advertising.
The local authorities have for some time sought to bring them under the control of the planning regulations. Following a number of landmark legal cases, their use by businesses is now firmly under the control of local planning departments.