Proposal of Outdoor Lighting Regulatory Framework

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1 Proposal of Outdoor Lighting Regulatory Framework Friends of the Earth (HK) INTRODUCTION The government will soon release its consultation study regarding the enactment of legislation to regulate outdoor lighting in Hong Kong. In many of the urban areas of this city, where commercial enterprises are interspersed with residences, people living in mix-use areas suffer from light pollution emanating from light advertisements and decorative lighting. In this proposal, FoE (HK) has drawn up an Outdoor Lighting Regulatory Framework which seeks to minimize light pollution and promote energy conservation. It will cover all aspects of outdoor lighting: outdoor advertising, ornamental and functional lighting, both public and private in Hong Kong with an exemption for security lighting. FoE (HK) invites everyone to give their views and support for this proposal. Valuable suggestions will be noted and adopted or forwarded during the government public consultation period. In this way we hope to persuade the government to adopt our regulatory framework for a well thought out legislation to control light pollution. THE FRAMEWORK'S APPROACH This regulatory framework does not propose only to tackle energy wastage from excessive lighting but lays emphasis on a critical Hong Kong problem light nuisance on people s health and quality of life. Therefore the person-oriented approach of the regulatory framework is set out according to the light intensity and disturbance of artificial light as it transgresses the property boundary line on the affected person. Regulations are outlined according to six aspects of control, namely zoning, curfew hours, light intensity, lighting angle, lighting fixture and a reactive complaint system. 1. Scope of control: The regulatory framework should cover all outdoor advertising, ornamental and functional lighting in Hong Kong, public or private. Examples include signages, billboards, TV panels, LED displays, street lights, sports field lighting, exterior lighting used to highlight architectural structure or features and illumination of display areas. 1

2 The following should be exempted: 1) Security illumination if its functioning is subject to the regulations governing technical security systems, or by the standards in the field of technical security systems. 2) Outdoor lighting fixtures required by law enforcement, fire and rescue. 3) Signalling in road, railway, air and marine traffic. 4) Artificial light emitted from airport, railway premises, tramway premises, bus stations and any associated facilities, public service vehicle operating centres, goods vehicle operating centres, lighthouses and prisons. 5) Holiday (impermanent) lighting fixtures. 2. Definitions: We suggest the following definitions: Light pollution can be defined as any adverse effect of artificial lighting on human beings and the natural environment. Adverse effects include the harmful effects on human health, energy wastage, disruption of ecosystems as well as in regard to astronomy. Lighting fixtures causing pollution and nuisance generally fall into four types of misuse (see below). Types of Misuse Description Remedial Approach Unnecessary Lights that have no useful purpose or are Turn off when not needed. lit when not needed. Badly designed Lights that are not properly shielded. Use appropriate lighting fixtures, preferably fully shielded. Badly installed Lights that are poorly located or directed Shine lights solely to objects at objects not intended to illuminate. intended to illuminate. Excessive Lights that are too numerous or too bright for the purpose. Use energy efficient light bulbs. Outdoor lighting refers to any form of permanently installed exterior lighting systems which emit light that impact on the outdoor environment. Property boundary line is identified as any boundary of a residential property over which it is physically possible for spill light from the subject lighting installation to pass and directly impact upon either: (a) a dwelling located on the subject property; or (b) the potential site of a dwelling if there is no development on the subject property. It can refer to any window or balcony of a property. 2

3 NOTE: A boundary screened by a high opaque fence or other substantially continuous physical barrier that obstructs direct light, preventing it from reaching the dwelling, does not comprise a relevant boundary. The physical barrier may be anywhere between the subject lighting installation and residential property. Light directed at domestic premises is to be understood as light pointed towards domestic premises within 100m of distance. Nuisance is defined as the unacceptable interference with the personal comfort or amenity of neighbours or the nearby community Controls: The standards and constraints proposed in this section should be clearly stipulated in the legislation to avoid confusion by the public. Outdoor advertising, ornamental and functional lightings, where their location is specified under the zoning scheme, should comply with relevant standards and constraints. 1) Zoning Given that Hong Kong is a densely-populated city with highly complicated, intertwined land use, it is necessary to mark off different zones where regulations are drafted according to specific land use and human activities. We suggest that Hong Kong should be divided into four regulatory zones, to which different requirements of curfew hours, light intensity, lighting angle and lighting fixtures are applied (see below). Zone Z1 Z2 Description (Lighting environment) Astronomical or conservation area (Intrinsically dark) Rural and purely residential area (Low district brightness) Curfew hours No advertising and ornamental lighting at any Light intensity 23:00-07:00 < 30 lux at any (at property boundary line) Lighting angle Zero upward lighting No advertising and ornamental lighting directed at window or balcony of domestic premises at any Lighting fixtures Lightings should be fully or partially shielded No flashing lights directed at domestic premises at any Permanent decorative and ornamental 1 With reference to Friends of the Earth (UK) s document on statutory nuisance. URL: 3

4 Z3 Urban area mixed of commercial and residential area (Medium district brightness) 23:00-07:00 < 30 lux during curfew hours (at property boundary line) sky-beamers forbidden No advertising and ornamental lighting directed at window or balcony of domestic premises at any No flashing lights directed at domestic premises at any Z4 Purely commercial area (High district brightness) Permanent decorative and ornamental sky-beamers forbidden 23:00-07:00 Permanent decorative and ornamental sky-beamers forbidden 2) Curfew hours (a) In zone 1, no outdoor advertising and ornamental lighting would be allowed at any. (b) In zones 2, 3 and 4, all outdoor advertising, ornamental and unnecessary functional lighting should be turned off after 23:00 until 07:00. 2 (c) In zones 3 and 4, 24 hour stores are exempted from the above restriction. However light should not be directed onto adjacent residential properties and should not reach beyond 30 lux at property boundary line. (d) Street lights are exempted. 3) Light intensity (a) In zone 2, all advertising, ornamental and functional lighting must be designed so that the illumination at the property boundary line that is attributable to the subject property does not exceed 30 lux at any. 3 (b) In zone 3, when a commercial use abuts a residence, lighting must be designed so that the illumination at the property boundary line that is attributable to the subject property does not exceed 30 lux during curfew hours. 2 With reference to Noise Control Ordinance, which states that any person who between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. in any domestic premises or public place makes or causes to be made any noise which is a source of annoyance to any person commits an offence. 3 According to a study, lux of compact fluorescent lights did not show harm on melatonin concentration in blood. See Harada, T. (2004). Effects of evening light conditions on salivary melatonin of Japanese junior high school students. Journal of Circadian Rhythms, 2 (4). See also CIE (International Commission on Illumination) s guideline, which sets the standard at 25 lux. 4

5 4) Lighting angle (a) In zone 1, no upward lighting, which is defined by lights shining above the horizontal plane, is allowed. All lighting should face downward and fully or partially shielded. (b) In zones 2 and 3, no advertising and ornamental lighting should be directed at any window or balcony of domestic premises at any. They should either be shielded or directed at the object intended to illuminate. (c) In zones 2, 3 and 4, permanent fixture of decorative and ornamental sky-beamers are forbidden. Sky-beamers are defined as lighting fixture illuminating the sky but not any specific object. (d) Holiday (impermanent) lighting fixtures, sky-beamers designed for occasional special events or aviation purpose are to be exempted. 5) Lighting fixture (a) In zone 1, all lighting should be fully or partially shielded. (b) In zones 2 and 3, lights or displays (including TV panels) that blink, flash, move, revolve, flicker, change intensity, or change color should not be directed at any window or balcony of domestic premises at any. 6) Reactive complaint system (a) We suggest that anyone affected by light nuisance should have the right to lodge a complaint with the authority (such as the Environmental Protection Department) and call for remedial measures. (b) The subjective test should be adopted to judge if any lighting causes a nuisance and this should be specified in the legislation. Furthermore if any artificial lighting causes a nuisance it should be made possible for a complaint to be made even if such lighting complies with other regulations. (c) It is to be made incumbent on the authority, once a complaint is made about a particular offending light source to conduct a proper investigation, taking into account these factors: duration, frequency, impact, local environment, motive and sensitivity of the complainant. (d) As long as the complaint is a valid one, the party who owns/manages the lighting fixture concerned should take remedial measures, such as advancing the lights-out schedule, replacing with low intensity bulbs, adding shields, etc. (e) We suggest the authority is provided with power to impose sanctions if the remedial measures are not complied with. 5

6 4. Further suggestions: We further recommend that consideration be given to the following: (a) building. Lighting which is to accentuate an architectural feature should not be extended to the entire (b) Light directed to a facade of a building or signboard should not be permitted to spillover beyond the plane of the building or signboard. (c) Require that lighting not to be turned on during day, if daylight is enough for illumination. (d) The obtrusive effects of outdoor lighting are best controlled initially by appropriate design. In the design and installation of an outdoor lighting system, consideration should be given to the potential effects of the lighting on occupants of surrounding properties and on transport users in the vicinity of the installation. 5. Appendix: 5.1 Measurement Illuminance can be measured by a special light measuring device known as the light meter, in the unit of lux or foot-candles, by measuring the amount of light energy falling on a given surface. NOTE: Where a number of lighting fixture are installed close together and pointing in the general direction towards the point of measurement it is important to isolate the particular lighting fixture being measured from the other ones. This may be achieved by a suitable masking of the illumination meter by a matt black tube. A luminance meter, suitably recalibrated, can also be used if the measurement field embraces the lighting fixture being measured but excludes the other ones. Where lighting fixtures are closer together on a headframe it will be generally impossible to separate one from another for the purpose of measurement. The intensity so determined by the equation I = E d 2 will be the sum of the intensities in that direction from all the lighting fixtures; the corollary is that the mean intensity for the lighting fixtures can be deduced by dividing the intensity so derived by the number of lighting fixtures. The measurement procedure would be suggested as follows: (a) A visual check should be made to determine whether the lighting fixtures are of the correct type and are mounted and aimed in accordance with the design. (b) For clauses 3(a) and 3(b), measurements should be made of the vertical illuminance at the critical locations, i.e. property boundaries, building facades, windows of adjacent residences. (c) For clause 4(c), the illuminance calculations should be made for a grid of points in the 6

7 relevant vertical plane, spaced at intervals of not more than 5 m in azimuth and 1 m in elevation. The vertical extent of the calculation grid will be determined by the height of the highest relevant point on the adjacent properties, e.g. the height of the highest window. The required height of the grid can be determined by the intersection, on a vertical plane at the boundary of the installation, of lines of sight between the lighting fixture and relevant points on the adjacent properties. Note that height differences resulting from the topography of the area must be taken into account. 4 (d) The luminous intensity emitted by a lighting fixture in a given direction can be derived from measurements of illuminance in the plane perpendicular to the direction of concern by use of the following equation: E = I / d 2 I = E d 2 where E = the illuminance in the plane perpendicular to the direction of concern, in lux, I = the luminous intensity emitted by the lighting fixture in the direction of concern, in candelas, d = the distance from the point of measurement to the lighting fixture in metres Examples of good lighting (shielded lighting) 6 4 Guide on the Limitation of the Effects of Obtrusive Light from Outdoor Lighting Installations (CIE ): International Commission on Illumination. 5 Ibid 6 Lighting manual of Maine State Planning Office 7

8 5.3 Light pollution legislation in other countries 1 UK light pollution is considered to be a nuisance as noise or smoke. 2 US Light pollution legislation in the US does not specifically consider light pollution as a nuisance, instead, each of the following states has their own regulations with respect to light intensity, curfew hours, lighting angles etc. Maine: Fairfax, Hancock; Washington: Seattle, Island County, Connecticut; Arizona: Flagstaff, Kennebunkport, Arkansas, New Mexico; Michigan: Livingston; Las Vegas; California; Virginia: Culpeper County; Delaware; Wyoming; Wisconsin; Vermont; Texas; Rhode Island; Montana; Hawaii 3 Other countries Light pollution legislation in other countries does not specifically consider light pollution as a nuisance, instead, each of the following countries has their own regulations with respect to light intensity, curfew hours, lighting angles etc. Republic of Slovenia, Czech Republic, Italy 4 Guideline only: Japan 5.4 Public opinion Two polls that have been conducted recently which back up the legislation of light pollution as well as the regulatory framework proposed. Poll done by Friends of the Earth (HK) in March 2009 (1,549 interviewees): Do you support the government to regulate light nuisance through statutory measures? Yes 82% No 4% No comment 14% What do you think the advertising and ornamental lightings facing domestic premises should be turned off? Before 8pm 2% 8pm 4% 9pm 10% 10pm 35% 11pm 31% 12am 12% After 12am 6% What do you think the advertising and ornamental lightings NOT facing domestic premises should be turned off? Before 8pm 2% 8pm 1% 9pm 5% 10pm 17% 11pm 24% 12am 28% After 12am 23% Poll done by PCLL students from the Chinese University of Hong Kong in June 2009 (250 interviewees): 7 Do you think Hong Kong should have legislative control over light pollution/nuisance? Yes 84% No 16% 7 Light Pollution Law in Hong Kong: Problems and Recommendations by HUI, Ka Chun Eugenie, LI, Xiao Feng Amber, SMITH, Jason Gregory and WONG, Yin Chuen Spencer. 8

9 Do you recognize light nuisance as a statutory nuisance? Yes 33% No 67% Do you support establishing specialized lighting zones? Yes 57% No 43% Do you support regulating lighting fixtures according to specific purpose of the lightings? Yes 74% No 26% Do you support specifically regulating advertising lightings? Yes 97% No 3% Do you support specifically regulating public lightings? Yes 27% No 73% Do you support specifically regulating building lightings? Yes 63% No 37% Do you support specifically regulating timing of lights? Yes 78% No 22% When do you think lights should be turned off in Hong Kong? Before 10pm 5% 10pm-11pm 13% 11pm-12am 28% After 12am 26% Depends 28% Do you support regulating the intensity of lighting fixtures? Yes 90% No 10% Do you support regulating the direction of light? Yes 34% No 66% Do you support regulating the types of lighting fixtures? Yes 53% No 47% Friends of the Earth (HK) Contact person: Cheng Sze Ling Environmental Affairs Officer Tel: Address: Rm , 13/F, Block A, Sea View Estate, 2 Watson Road, Hong Kong 9

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