Our neighbour’s security light is waking us at night, but they won’t do anything to help

Source: Irish Times, Tue, Nov 28, 2017, 00:00

Nightly nightmare: We are waking at 2am, 3am, 4am and sometimes 5am due to the light on our bedroom wall


We have an ongoing problem with a neighbour whose outside security light shines down the length of the small terrace and into our bedroom window every night. Due to its irregular operation, if someone walks past or a leaf flutters in the nearby bush, we are getting broken sleep, waking at 2am, 3am, 4am and sometimes 5am due to the light on our bedroom wall.

We initially approached it amicably by asking our neighbour if they could move the light to the opposite wall where it would still light their property but not all the other gardens in the back of the houses. We were told in no uncertain terms that it would not be moved. We are now in the fourth year of dealing with this and have been told not to approach the woman of the house but the husband and not to talk to him again, and remove ourselves from their property. What are my options at this stage?

It is regrettable that your neighbour appears so unreasonable. It really is very difficult to deal with someone like this.

The District Court has a process (District Court rules 1997 order 96 rule 8) which is often used whereby you can bring a neighbour to court for noise pollution but unfortunately it only covers noisy neighbours and nothing else.

You could try complaining to An Garda Síochána but I imagine they will not want to get involved as they will consider it a civil matter and not a criminal one. The Environmental Protection Agency received some representations in a public consultation process in 2012 regarding light pollution but unfortunately it has stated that it has no function in that regard.

Presuming that you have already installed heavy curtains with blackout lining and blackout roller blinds then a possible route would be to see if the neighbour would engage with you through an independent third party (someone acceptable to you and to him) to hammer out some sort of agreement by mediation. As a general rule if neither you nor he is 100 per cent happy with the deal that is reached then it’s a good deal. This is the cheapest of three main options.


A second and more expensive option is taking him to court. What you are complaining of here is a nuisance which in legal terms is called a tort (not to be confused with a dessert Ross O’Carroll-Kelly might eat!). It’s basically a civil wrong.

If a tort has been committed then you can sue on foot of it. It is reasonably foreseeable that his floodlight would have the effect of waking up his neighbours so he owes you a duty not to disturb you or your fellow sleep-deprived neighbours with the floodlight. To definitively deal with the matter and enforce your right to a decent night’s sleep, you would have to initiate court proceedings, seeking an order from a judge compelling your neighbour to cease the nuisance. As with all court cases, it can be a very lengthy process, the costs can rack up quickly and you may not get the redress you seek. It is very important to remember before you embark on a court case that the outcome is never guaranteed.

The third and nuclear option would be, of course, to consider moving house which seems quite drastic but ultimately you may have no choice, particularly if you do not fancy going to court.

Paul Stack is a solicitor at P&G Stack Solicitors

Check out the light emerging from these Dublin landmarks

A PHYSICS PROFESSOR at Trinity College Dublin is hoping to start a discussion about the amount of light pollution produced in Ireland.

Professor Brian Espey and his colleagues measured light falling on the ground at locations away from directly-illuminated areas (such as those with streetlights), and recorded the light scattered back onto the ground from the air.

Measurements were taken on clear nights over a 1,000 square km area from Dublin City Centre southwards into the Wicklow Hills.

Ireland_1995_2010_animatedSource: Trinity College Dublin

Unsurprisingly, light from Dublin city dominates the natural sky background even in heritage sites such as Glendalough, some 45 km away – as well as other parts of the Wicklow Mountains National Park.

Espey and his team estimates that over 2.2 GWh (2.2 million “units”) of electricity is “wasted” in providing diffuse illumination of areas such as back gardens, public parks, woods and mountains, at a cost of about €300,000 annually.

Scaled up by the light emission of other Irish cities, this amounts to a cost of 3.3 GWh, or an annual burden of €460,000, but these measurements underestimate the true figures as light escaping directly to space has not been factored in.

“When we look at images from the International Space Station, such as those tweeted by Commander Chris Hadfield when he flew over Ireland, we generally do not think that the light that a few astronauts see at 400 km above the Earth is just a small sample of the total that is outgoing to space, never to return,” Espey stated.

Public lighting accounts for about 15% to 35% of a local authority’s energy use.

According to research carried out by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), the 420,000 or so streetlights in Ireland use a total of 205 GWh of electricity annually, which costs €29 million and produces 110,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide.


Espey’s team said as much as 20-30% of this energy “could be wasted through poorly-designed or inefficient lighting and the illumination of areas where light is not needed”.

The professor said this is also negatively impacting the environment an people’s health.

Humans – just like other animals and plants – have been conditioned over millions of years to rely on circadian rhythms, which are controlled by natural light-dark, day-night transitions. If the environment remains brightly lit then the night-time mode of repair and replenishment cannot occur as is required, and potentially harmful free radicals build up in our systems.

Espey said local authorities “are aware of light waste and pollution, but there is still room for improvement and more could embrace improved light pollution controls as part of their environmental agenda”.

He noted that most public lighting in Ireland is “unmetered and uses relatively old technology”, but said the push towards newer lighting types such as LED technology “could see the situation improve in the medium term”.

Espey added that these issues should be looked at in detail “before the next cycle of building commences”.

Security for the public

A spokeswoman for Dublin City Council said the biggest source of light pollution is from low pressure sodium lights of which DCC uses about 22,000. It is proposed to replace all of these lights over the next few years with LED lighting.

This will have a big impact on light pollution. The city has approximately 45,000 lights and the remaining 23,000 lights do not have the same light polluting effect as the low pressure sodium [lights]. So, as far as light pollution is concerned, the council has a plan in place to reduce a large amount of the light pollution problem.

She noted that street lights affords city residents a ”sense of security”, adding: “LED lighting is more efficient at delivering light to where it is required, but this light is also reflected back up into the sky and will also cause light pollution. So even the most efficient of lighting schemes will produce some light pollution.”

DCC spends approximately €3.6 million per year on energy supplied to street lights. The move to LED technology, which is expected to be completed in about five years, will decrease this expenditure by 50%.

Espey will present his findings in public during next week’s Trinity Week – the theme of which is ‘light’. More information is available here


Source: The Journal.ie


Pollution has been causing springtime to come early

Artificial lighting has been causing springtime to come early, with trees bursting into leaf a week earlier in areas with more light pollution, scientists have found.

Pollution has been causing springtime to come early

Researchers at the University of Exeter compared the amount of artificial night-time light across the country and the date at which new leaves first appeared on trees such as sycamore, oak, ash and beech.

The research drew on “citizen science” data from the Woodland Trust, which asks members of the public to record the signs of the changing seasons, such as bud-burst, in its Nature’s Calendar scheme.

Couple sitting on a hill in London
(Philip Toscano/PA)

Comparing 13 years of data about when the buds were bursting with satellite images of artificial lighting, the researchers found the key sign of spring was occurring up to 7.5 days earlier in brighter areas, with the effect larger in later-budding trees.

Excluding large urban areas from the analysis showed the advance of spring was even more pronounced, the research published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, found.

This showed the early bud bursting was not simply down to the “heat-island” effect in which cities are slightly warmer than the surrounding areas.

The way the effect was seen across all areas also suggests it is not down to temperature rises, according to the study, which was a collaboration between the university and independent environmental consultants Spalding Associates, in Truro, Cornwall.

(Steve Helber/AP)

The scientists raised concerns that the impact of artificial night-time lighting – such as street lights – on trees would have a knock-on effect on other wildlife.

Winter moths, which feed on emerging oak leaves, could be affected, which in turn could have an impact on birds which feed on them.

Dr Kate Lewthwaite, Woodland Trust citizen science manager, said: “Analysis of Nature’s Calendar data suggests that increased urbanisation is continuing to put pressure on the natural world, in ways that we could not have foreseen.

“As the seasons become less and less predictable, our native wildlife may struggle to keep up with fluctuations that affect habitats and food sources.

“Hopefully this research will lead to new thinking on how to tackle such issues, and will help influence future development decisions.”


Source: Irish Examiner, to read click here.


Dark sky at night is Mayo’s delight

Ballycroy National Park & Wild Nephin Wilderness named Ireland’s first International Dark Sky Park

Mayo has been awarded a glittering new string to its tourism bow – the stars above. The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) has granted Gold-Tier International Dark Sky Park status to Ballycroy National Park & Wild Nephin Wilderness, to be jointly recognised as Mayo International Dark Sky Park, it was announced today (Thursday).
A Gold-Tier classification is an honour reserved for the most exceptional of dark skies and breathtaking nightscapes. This recognition completes the ‘360 degree experience’ that the north Mayo national park has to offer, boasting pristine beauty underfoot, all around and up above.
Ballycroy is the first national park in the country to be named an International Dark Sky Park, building on the success of Kerry’s Iveragh Peninsula, which the Arizona-based IDA named Ireland’s first International Dark Sky Reserve in 2014. The major difference lies in accessibility: the Iveragh Peninsula reserve encompasses privately owned land, whereas the Ballycroy National Park & Wild Nephin Wilderness is State-owned, offering open public access for everyone to enjoy.
“Today’s announcement is a wonderful outcome for both dark skies and economic development in rural Ireland,” IDA Executive Director J Scott Feierabend said. “County Mayo joins Kerry as a haven of natural darkness for both wildlife and human visitors alike.”
The vast Ballycroy National Park and the adjoining Wild Nephin Wilderness expands over roughly 15,000 hectares of Atlantic blanket bog, mountainous terrain and forest. Viewing sites for visiting astronomers and stargazers have been designated and graded by ease of access and facilities available. Signature viewing sites include the Claggan Mountain Boardwalk, Letterkeen Bothy and Ballycroy National Park Visitor Centre, which have excellent interpretive and parking facilities.
To get Dark-Sky recognition, an area not only needs to prove that it is sufficiently dark from an astronomy point of view, it must also engage with the wider community in nearby urban spaces through education and outreach events to raise awareness of light pollution and energy waste, and their impact on environmental issues.
The Mayo Dark-Sky designation follows a lengthy period of night-sky surveying and quality monitoring by students of Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology. Assisted by Professor Brian Espey of Trinity College Dublin’s Astrophysics Department, the research resulted in collaboration among communities in Newport, Ballycroy and Mulrannny, together with Ballycroy National Park, Coillte Forestry, Mayo County Council, Mayo South West Development and Galway Astronomy Club. The group formed the Friends of Mayo Dark-Skies steering committee and submitted the application for Dark Sky status earlier this year.
“We are thrilled with the award. The project has been embraced by so many parties and is the first collaboration of its kind between a National Park, Coillte and surrounding communities,” project manager Georgia MacMillan explained. “Our nightscapes are inspirational and worth protecting for future generations.  It’s hoped that achieving this award will not only showcase the area for the growing market of astro-tourism, but also raise awareness of the impact of light pollution on our environment and biodiversity.”
Mayo County Council has committed to dark-sky friendly lighting in the area, and is working with the Friends of Mayo Dark-Skies group to further reduce light pollution where possible.
The Mayo International Dark Sky Park already has some exciting events planned for the coming months, including The Mayo Dark-Sky Festival, slated to be held from October 28 to 30.
In a serendipitous coincidence, today’s announcement came during a Mayo Dark Skies open day for business and tourism providers. Ballycroy Visitor Centre hosted a range of expert speakers, who spoke to those gathered about the benefits and opportunities that Dark Sky recognition would bring. It seems the Dark Sky Park award was written in the stars.


Source: Mayo News (Ciara Moynihan)