Abacus carries out light pollution survey
Abacus Lighting has revealed that light pollution may be to blame for keeping people up at night.
Sutton In Ashfield, England: November 2007
Abacus Lighting has revealed that light pollution may be to blame for keeping people up at night. The company recently commissioned unique research on attitudes to light pollution - with some interesting results.
The Harris Poll Europe Omnibus Survey on attitudes to light pollution was carried out on 2,000 British adults in October 2007. The research reveals that many people believe that our night time skies are no longer as dark as they once were. Almost two thirds believe the night time sky is lighter today than it was 10 years ago and many of those interviewed revealed nostalgia for dark winter nights and visible stars in the sky.
A third of those interviewed admitted that light outside their bedroom window contributed to sleepless nights. The problem was particularly prevalent in the North West of England, where 44% of respondents admitting having trouble sleeping as a direct result of light pollution.
As well as sleeping problems, campaigners are keen to point out the environmental effect of light pollution.
Emma Marrington, Campaign for Rural England’s Rural Policy Campaigner, commented: "All direct light pollution is wasted energy: light shining were it is not needed or wanted. And the great majority of that wasted light is made by burning fossil fuels in power stations. We calculate that if light pollution was reduced, Britain’s output of carbon dioxide would then be cut by several tens of thousands of tonnes a year.".
Light pollution has become a significant issue in the UK over the last 50 years. Orange and pink sky glow, which is the glow we can see for miles around urban areas, is spreading further out from our towns and cities and another lesser known effect of this light pollution is the potential impact on wildlife. Many animal and plant species are known to be sensitive to the changes in day length that come with the passing of the seasons. The changing light cues changes in their own lives concerned with growth and feeding, reproduction and migration. Some bird species use the stars for night time navigation and certain types of nocturnal species are not adapted for activity in bright light.
52% of those interviewed in the Abacus research blamed street lighting, while a further 22% thought obtrusive lighting from commercial premises such as industrial estates, freight depots and ferry terminals could be to blame.
Kelvin Austin, Abacus’ Principal Lighting Engineer, was not surprised by the results: "The Government and Highways Agency are working to minimise light pollution on motorways, roads and street lighting. There is currently an initiative underway to phase out old lighting stock, however where this still exists, it is still causing obtrusive lighting issues.
"Towns and cities are a particular problem and this in an area where some of the largest energy savings can be made. Many office blocks and public buildings fail to turn off their lights at night. In addition, in many out-of-town areas, flood lights for industrial estates and sports facilities overspill directly into open countryside. Many have been incorrectly and poorly lit and emit light directly into the night sky as opposed to lighting the area they were intended for." .
Local authority planners are required to set conditions and policies for exterior lighting. However, many campaigners believe that local authorities and planners should be directly encouraged to implement these recommendations when handling planning applications and that it should be mandatory to use lighting specialists in the design of large projects and potentially more polluting projects, in order to minimise the environmental and light pollution effect.
Abacus Lighting’s commitment to innovation, high engineering standards and quality production ensures minimum impact on all types of locality and environment. The control of light pollution is a high priority design consideration for both new projects and existing installations. Abacus has recently developed a new range of exterior lighting to effectively control obtrusive light, reducing overspill and directing light only where it is needed. The "Orion 3" and "Pegasus 2" amenity lanterns incorporate a unique high performance twin step reflector with flat glass, which provides low light pollution by producing a square illuminance distribution ensuring maximum efficiency and good uniformity with 0% Upward Light Output Ratio (ULOR).
Abacus’ "Challenger®" range of floodlights, designed specifically for the sports industry, also offers a specific light control system consisting of a series of complementary measures, including precision reflector systems to ensure tight beam control.
Abacus also works closely with The British Astronomical Association’s Campaign for Dark Skies (CfDS) which aims to preserve and restore the beauty of the night sky by campaigning against inefficient, unnecessary and irresponsible lighting.