Switch Off That Light
Or Face A Fine

By Charles Clover
Environment Editor
The Telegraph - UK
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 not.
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 Agency.
It allows parish councils to impose fixed penalties, which they will be able to set themselves, for litter, dog fouling and graffiti.
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 for fly-tipping.
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.
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