Ordinary Meeting, 2005 April 23
Mr Morgan-Taylor reminded members that in 2003 October, a Parliamentary Select Committee had issued a very favourable Report on light-pollution issues, urging that obtrusive lighting become a Statutory Nuisance. He was pleased to announce further progress: the Department for Environmental Foods and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) had responded by modifying its Clean Neighbourhoods Bill, which had already been passing through Parliament, adding clauses to this effect. It had received Royal Assent on 2005 April 7. In the past, only Common Law had regulated what lighting could acceptably be installed, which had meant that disputes could be pursued only by Civil Action, i.e. suing, but now prosecution was also possible: any Council Authority approached with a complaint of nuisance lighting was legally obliged to investigate.
However, the speaker cautioned that the interpretation of this new legislation was sure to cause debate. Certain sites, including some of the worst offenders, bus stations and rail depots, were explicitly exempt, deemed to require lighting for safe operation. In addition, the legislation applied specifically to "premises"; the speaker anticipated interesting legal debate on whether streetlamps were such. For domestic premises, however, prosecutions in cases of lights shining onto the property of others would likely succeed.
Mr Morgan-Taylor reported that he and Bob Mizon would be submitting a paper to the Journal as soon as possible, but in the meantime, he would willingly answer any queries received from members. Contact details for the Campaign for Dark Skies could be found inside the back page of the Journal.
Following applause, the President thanked Mr Morgan-Taylor for his work, adding that it was good to see some progress, albeit slow, in the Government's response to this issue. He then welcomed Mr Martin Mobberley to present his latest Sky Notes.