Letter to the Secretary of State for Communities about light pollution

Rt Hon Michael Gove MP

Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities of the United Kingdom



 Dear Michael,


I am writing to you to amplify the voices of my constituents who are concerned about light pollution and the damage it's doing to our night time skies - and therefore to people, nature and the environment. Many of them have taken part in CPRE's annual star count and been dismayed by how few stars have been visible. As an indicator, if people count fewer than ten stars, they are experiencing severe light pollution - last year this was 49% of people. We are losing one of the most magical sights the natural world has to offer.

Light pollution can have a devastating impact on wildlife; interrupting natural rhythms including migration, reproduction and feeding patterns. Human-made light is known to cause confusion to migrating birds, for example, often with fatal outcomes. Further, research has suggested that moths, which play an important role in pollinating flowers during their nocturnal activity and have declined in abundance by 40%, may be adversely disrupted by light pollution. The charity Buglife states that two-thirds of invertebrates are partially or wholly nocturnal -  and it's estimated that light pollution is reducing nocturnal pollinator visits to flowers by 62% in some areas.

The climate emergency is another reason to reduce the amount of light emitted by roads and buildings - lighting contributes significantly to climate emissions in the UK. For example, in Cornwall, street lighting alone accounts for 30% of the council’s emissions. Globally, despite the steady move towards LED, lighting is responsible for 5% of climate emissions. That’s more than a billion tonnes of CO2 emissions per year.


I therefore agree with my constituents that we urgently need stronger planning policies, both nationally and locally, to support our starry skies. The review of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) offers a unique opportunity to introduce minimum standards for the management of external lighting, with well-designed lighting that is only used when and where it is needed, and to protect dark skies with policies to ensure that new developments do not increase light pollution.


Please will you let me know what action the Government will be taking to reduce light pollution, to protect our wildlife and to reduce the climate emissions associated with unnecessary lighting.


Yours sincerely, 

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