POLICY H12 Dark Skies

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Context and reasoned justification

The invention of artificial light has done much to safeguard and enhance our night-time environment but, if not properly controlled, obtrusive light (sometimes referred to as light pollution) can present both physiological and ecological problems. Furthermore, given the large expanse of countryside and ecologically valuable land surrounding the area it is desirable that as far as possible these natural areas enjoy dark skies at night and that the bleed of light from built areas and roads is minimised, for the benefit of wild life, residents and visitors. To our south the South Downs National Park has just been honoured as the world’s newest ‘international dark sky reserve’.

Sky glow, the brightening of the night sky, glare and the spilling of light beyond the boundary of the area being lit, are all forms of obtrusive light which may cause nuisance to others and waste money and energy. It is a form of pollution, which can be substantially reduced without detriment to the lighting task. Over-lighting is a major cause of obtrusive light and a waste of energy. There are published standards for most lighting tasks, adherence to which will help minimise over- lighting and the upward reflection of light. There is no reason these should not be set as a minimum standard for all new developments and light replacements in the Plan area.

The Institution of Lighting Professionals provides guidance on appropriate lighting (see Table 4 below) for different areas and the Plan requirements are based on this. Planners are asked to consider these as a minimum requirement and to seek to reduce general light levels and over-lighting wherever possible to respect the rural nature of our area.



Lighting Environment





UNESCO Starlight Reserves, IDA Dark Sky Parks



Intrinsically dark

National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty etc



Low district brightness

Village or relatively dark outer suburban locations



Medium district brightness

Small town centres or suburban locations



High district brightness

Town/city centres with high levels of night time activity

Table 4: Dark Sky zones


The Neighbourhood Plan wants to prevent further light encroachment into undeveloped areas and whenever possible reduce existing light encroachment when renewal or replacement of any private or public lighting or lighting of new developments occurs.

It is intended that all areas outside the settlement boundaries should seek to achieve level E1 unless there are clear and specific reasons why it may be dangerous to do so. Areas within the town centre and main roads through the town (see Figure 4 overleaf) are permitted where necessary to adhere to E3 standards. In all other areas within the settlement boundaries a minimum of the E2 standard should be used.

Figure 4: Dark skies zones


H12 Development proposals will be supported that are designed to limit the impact of light pollution by:

  1. Meeting or exceeding the Institute of Lighting Professionals guidance for the environmental zone in which they are proposed (see Figure 4 above)
  2. Having regard to the following hierarchy:
    1. avoid the installation of additional lighting
    2. install lighting necessary for its intended purpose or use at the lowest practical lumens value and avoid adverse impacts where possible
    3. appropriate mitigation of adverse impacts
  1. avoiding unnecessarily visible lighting in designated wildlife sites or the surrounding landscape
  2. avoiding building designs that result in increased light spill from internal lighting without suitable mitigation

Planning conditions requiring the efficacy of measures to be monitored will be used. Post development mitigation to meet the standards specified will be required when appropriate.

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