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The Importance of a Lighting Impact Assessment

Posted October 30, 2019

Well designed and installed lighting, reduces the impact of lighting on human wellbeing, ecology and the environment, whilst also reducing energy consumption, lowering carbon emissions and lowering the contribution from artificial lighting on climate change.

As we approach the winter months, the evening darkness draws in increasingly earlier, giving us the opportunity to notice our lit environment at night once again. We can notice the good and bad examples of lighting around us, that we might not have noticed over the summer months, when daylight hours extend later into the evenings.

Unfortunately, glare, light spill and sky glow caused by poor examples of lighting will dominate the nightscape, wasting energy and potentially impacting the surrounding environment. Although lighting may not be an obvious contributor to climate change, over-lighting an area, or contributing obtrusive light within an area can lead to increased and unnecessary energy usage. Lighting in the environment must be implemented correctly, sensitively and with sound design principles to reduce the contribution from poor lighting on climate change. Whilst lighting plays a relatively small part in the overall issues relevant to climate change, it is still an area where differences can be made.

Spend a moment thinking about all the light wasted through spill light, uncontrolled lighting that could have easily been dimmed between midnight and dawn and glare caused by light sources that are too powerful for their installation location. All these components lead to increased and unnecessary energy usage along with unnecessary carbon emissions.

Community Light Management Plans (CLMPs) are an excellent method of ensuring that lighting at night is sensitive to the surrounds and implemented appropriately. Essentially, CLMP’s serve as local lighting strategies that outline how lighting should be implemented according to the relevant environmental zone, whilst ensuring the lighting levels are suitable for their intended purpose. CLMP’s can supplement Local Neighbourhood Plans and can help communities to ensure lighting in their locality is adequately designed and suitably controlled. These have been successful in ‘Dark Sky Places’ to retain the Dark- Sky quality.

Local Planning Authorities can ensure that lighting associated with new development is appropriate for the surroundings and unobtrusive when implemented. It has never been so important to ensure that lighting associated with new development is environmentally responsible. DFL are industry leaders in mitigating against obtrusive light that can negatively affect ecology, human wellbeing, safety for road users and pedestrians, reduce visibility of the stars because of sky glow and many more effects that we have not begun to understand yet. Poorly designed lighting can also degrade our perception and enjoyment of a space, so it is vital for lighting to be well designed. Well-designed lighting leads to better looking spaces, less effects on ecology, the environment, better human well- being and most importantly lower energy consumption.

There are many examples across the country where lighting has been installed incorrectly. This is usually apparent when luminaires designed to be mounted facing downwards have been tilted up, giving rise to light spill, glare and sky glow. If the planning condition required confirmation of the installation, these issues would have been corrected. Think of how many examples of this there are all around the country!

Take a look at our ‘Keys to Success’ in the art that is lighting during the planning process to gain an understanding of the elements that should be considered first and foremost when lighting is to be implemented.

CASE STUDY- DOROTHY HOUSE HOSPICE

Designs for Lighting developed a sensitive lighting design and supporting strategy for the car park extension at Dorothy House HospiceThe lighting installation leads by example through ensuring the lowest possible light levels are deployed, reducing the impact on sensitive receptors and reducing the potential for sky glow in the area. The principles incorporated within the approach would form the basis for most Community Light Management Plans, which the The Commission for Dark Skies encourages across communities to help retain dark skies and improve the quality of light at night.” -  Bob Mizon, Co-ordinator, Commission for Dark Skies.

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