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Lord Northbourne: I should like, very briefly, to support the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford, in drawing attention to the importance of this new environmental damage that is being caused by light at night. Perhaps the noble Baroness, Lady Hilton, got it wrong in referring to light pollution: what we are discussing is pollution by light at night. The orange glow over my part of the countryside at night certainly detracts materially from the beauty of the countryside at night. If we are concerned about maintaining the rural countryside in this country, we must be concerned about retaining it by night as well as by day.
It is all very well to have motorway lighting. At the moment I am in correspondence about the new lighting that is being installed on the M.2. I am told that it is justified if a 30 per cent. reduction in night accident rates is achieved. I hope to find out, first, whether or not there is any research justification for the figure of 30 per cent. and, secondly, whether or not there are alternative solutions. For example, in France there are central barriers so that the lights of oncoming vehicles do not dazzle drivers. That may be a better and very much cheaper solution. I suggest that whatever is put into the Bill, there ought to be an environmental assessment every time a new major street lighting scheme on a motorway is proposed and that all the relevant amenity bodies, including the CPRE, are consulted.
Lord Moran: I, too, support very strongly Amendment No. 46 so capably moved by the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford. At the moment, in this country lighting is largely a matter for local authorities. Many of them have enlightened policies. The authorities in the two areas where I live, Powys and Kensington, have admirable lighting engineers and do a very good job. I believe it would be helpful if the environmental agency was able to use its influence to cut down pollution by
For the past five years the British Astronomical Association has conducted an admirable campaign called the Campaign for Dark Skies. It is important that in country areas one should still be able to see the stars and not have them blotted out by the terrible orange glow that covers so much of the country. It is possible to improve matters. The Department of Transport has done a good job in removing quite a number of low-pressure sodium lights, which distort colours and make everything appear orange, and replacing themas in the case of the M.4 going westwith high-pressure sodium lights which are still an orangey-yellow colour but do not distort colours. I believe they are greatly preferable. White lights are even better. I am happy to say that in my part of Wales the county council has agreed to replace the orange sodium lights in the village with white lights. The improvement is immense. However, here in London it seems that only round Buckingham Palace, Albert Bridge, and select places of that kind, is one allowed to have white lights.
Perhaps one good idea for the millennium project is to sweep away all the sodium lights in this country and replace them with white lights. This amendment is a good one, and I hope that the Government will be prepared to meet the arguments that have been put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford.
Lord Barber of Tewkesbury: I should like to add the briefest of comment in support of the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford. I should like to make three points, one of them a rather discrete one. I have no doubt that this is a neglected area that deserves a great deal more sympathy and attention than it has had up to now. Moreover, I believe that public opinion is moving well ahead of the authorities over the whole field of pollution by light.
In my part of the Cotswolds, all of the villages are rapidly filling up with commuters. I believe that almost all of them are townspeople who have come to live in the villages. I am fascinated by the ferocity with which year by year people who come to live in the villages oppose street lightingand jolly good luck to them! The fact of the matter is that they have opted to live and think like country people. I am all in favour of giving them the maximum amount of encouragement. However, with equal ferocity, the local authorities wish to impose street lighting without any proper review of the situation.
I am jolly glad that there are many villages in the Cotswolds without any lighting. One particular village of 800 people was the subject of a poll on the subject. Ninety three per cent. refused to have anything to do with street lighting, if it could be avoided. It is nothing to do with safety. The rigidity of the local authorities is absolutely frightening. I believe that the adoption of this amendment will help andif I may coin the phraselighten the darkness of these authorities who cannot see what it is all about.
Lord Beaumont of Whitley: I also support the amendment. As the noble Baroness has just said, the wording of the amendment probably needs to be revised. Although it is not the purpose of the environment agency, this will have the effect, if it happens, of reducing the amount of energy that is expended. If we are moving towards sustainable development, that is something of which we must all be in favour.
Lord Howie of Troon: I do not wish to oppose the amendment totally because I believe that there is a good deal of sense in it. However, the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford, has perhaps a fixation about light. Just the other day he was trying to change our time in the expectation of greater light. What I see here is a good deal of sense that has been carried just a little too far, which is often the case in environmental matters. If people dislike something of this nature they call it pollution. The kind of thing that we have been talking about is no more than nuisance. It may amount to pollution here and there in odd corners, but it is really nuisance and therefore is much less reprehensible.
When I stumble into the countryside (which does not happen very often) I prefer to see where I am going. If one is looking at stars, and so on, the light is a nuisance. However, for the most part I like the help of lights, perhaps because I do not see very well any way. I can see better in the light than in the dark. I would not describe light as pollution. It may be a nuisance and may interfere with certain activities. I support certain parts of the speeches that have been made, but, to be frank, the pudding has been over-egged.
Lord Chorley: I started off with the difficulty of wondering what light pollution meant. I thought that it was the opposite of heavy pollution; but we were enlightened on that. I have a great deal of sympathy for the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford. My only worry is whether the environment agency is the right body to do it. However, I cannot think who else it may be and in that sense I support the noble Lord. If we make some progress on this matter perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford, might wish to come back at Report stage so that we can discuss the other appalling form of transport pollutionnamely, noisewhich I believe is as bad as if not worse than pollution by light.
Viscount Ullswater: I hope that the noble Baroness, Lady Hilton, will forgive me if I address myself to the particular amendment that seems to have monopolised the attention of the Committee in the past few minutes before I address myself to her point on "mitigating". Amendment No. 46 specifies that light pollution should be included within environmental pollution. I recognise not only the quite legitimate anxieties behind this proposal, which have been echoed from a number of corners in this House, but that Clause 5 is a general
I am well aware of people's worries about this matter. The noble Lord, Lord Moran, identified his dislike for low pressure sodium lights. But motorway and street lighting is needed both for safety and amenity purposes. My noble friend indicated how it was possible to have well designed installations which should provide illumination only when and where it was required and to an appropriate level of intensity. I agree that that is the right course. However, the noble Lords, Lord Beaumont and Lord Chorley, identified some of the problems attaching this amendment to the Bill. It is important to recognise that the environment agency's responsibilities do not extend to statutory nuisance or transport matters. So its role in this instance would be very limited.
Lord Marlesford: I thank my noble friend for his reply. As I understood him, in so far as it would be under the terms of the clause as drafted, it would be up to the environment agency to take account of pollution by light along with other forms of pollution. If that is what my noble friend said, and I understood him to say that, that is quite satisfactory.
I quite understand that there is no reason to single out with a specific reference in the clause a specific form of pollution. But I was rather concerned when he said that it would not be able to take any account of noise or other forms of pollution. I should have thought that all forms of pollution should be taken into account because they are part of what stands in the way of sustainable development, if I may use the current phrase.
Given that Hansard can now be used to understand legislation, and on the understanding that light pollution is indeed comprehended in the terms of Clause 4, I shall be happy to withdraw my amendment.
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