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An Introduction to French Light Pollution Law
Martin Morgan - Taylor Principal Lecturer, De Montfort Law School, Leicester, UK E-mail: mart@dmu.ac.uk Pedithep Youyuenyong Researcher in Law, De Montfort Law School, Leicester, UK E-mail: pedithep.youyuenyong@email.dmu.ac.uk
10 กุมภาพันธ์ 2556 18:31 น.
 
Introduction
       On 25th January 2013 the ‘French Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy’ (Ministère de l'Écologie, du Développement durable et de l’Énergie) established a new regulatory framework which will help to control light pollution. (Arrêté du 25 janvier 2013 relatif à l'éclairage nocturne des bâtiments non résidentiels afin de limiter les nuisances lumineuses et les consommations d'énergie) The purpose of the French light pollution Law is to reduce the country’s annual energy requirement by about two terawatt hours, £600m, a quarter of a million tonnes of CO2, and it will also reduce light pollution (pollution lumineuse) from interior lights in business offices and other non-residential buildings. The new law will require that be switched off an hour after the last person has left the premises. In addition, under the new provision, external lighting and lights in shop window displays will have to be turned off at 1 am.
       The law clearly supports minimising wasted money and energy.  However, these measures will help to control light pollution more broadly. Artificial lighting from commercial and business premises in the wrong place at the wrong time can also affect people and the natural environment; such as by shining into bedroom windows disturbing sleep, or by affecting the life cycles of animals such as bats, birds or insects, as well as by blocking out the night time stars. Therefore, the French Government and local authorities have a wider duty to take reasonably practicable steps to control light pollution from unwanted or inappropriate lights at night.
       The purpose of this paper is to describe the aspects of light pollution. This paper will also explain what the new law involves and how it will work.
       What is light pollution?
       It is first necessary to define what is meant by light pollution; it is the general term used to cover the wide range of negative effects which may be caused by artificial lighting. It is sometimes called photo pollution, or obtrusive light.  It is not surprising that there is as yet no single legal definition intended to tackle the whole spectrum of issues raised by light pollution, due to the breadth of the problems; however it has been suggested that light pollution should be defined in law as ‘any adverse effect caused by artificial lighting’.[1] This simple and all-encompassing definition is almost identical to that used by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), which defines it as ‘Any adverse effect of manmade light. Often used to denote urban sky glow.’[2] Light pollution is generally caused by inappropriate or unwanted artificial light at night. Light pollution may be produced by artificial light sources at both public and private premises. Inappropriate or unwanted lights from a wide variety of sources have several other negative effects which can be associated with environmental impacts and human beings. For example, energy wastage, carbon emissions, harm to safety and security, harm to the health of both human and ecological systems as well as interference with astronomical observations.[3]
       The categories of light pollution include glare, light ‘trespass’ (light intrusion), and skyglow.  ‘Glare’ is ‘the excessive contrast between bright and dark areas in the field of view’.[4]  Light ‘trespass’ is not a legal term, and it would be better described as ‘light intrusion,’ occurs when light enters a place that it is not wanted, such as a bedroom window. ‘Sky glow’ is the glow seen in the night sky above populated areas, which is caused by a combination of reflected and refracted light from the atmosphere. The loss of the view of the night sky is primary consequence of sky glow, and its effects can stretch for many miles away from its source of illumination.[5] 
       The new law is a product of the ‘Grenelle Environment Round Table’ (Le Grenelle Environnement) meeting in France, which was instigated by President Nicolas Sarkozy, in order to legislate for the environmental problems associated with ecological and astronomical light pollution. This followed a call from the astronomical community in France to legislate against the degradation of the night sky due to the increase in lighting associated with urban sprawl.[6]
       Furthermore, the ‘French National Association for the Protection of the Sky and the Nocturnal Environment’ (L'Association nationale pour la protection du ciel et de l'environnement nocturnes - ANPCEN) established a full tutorial on environmentally friendly lighting design, which recommends how local authorities and communities can reduce light well; that is by reducing light pollution levels, without compromising safety and security. The French ‘Plan for Sky and Night Environment Protection’ (Charte de protection du du Ciel et de l'Environnement Nocturne) has been issued by French National Association for the Protection of the Sky and the Nocturnal Environment and other astronomical associations to encourage local authorities to reduce light pollution.
       However, all French environmental plans and guidance within the jurisdiction have to be agreed or established by the French Parliament before it may come into force. The French Plan for Sky and Night Environment Protection could not come into force until the French Parliament had passed a new law against light pollution.
       How does the French light pollution Law work?
       The French light pollution law aims to reduce business energy bills by cutting waste and reduce light pollution from all non-residential premises, including shops.  From 1st July 2013, interior lights in business offices and other non-residential buildings, including shop windows will have to be switched off an hour after the last worker has left.[7] Switching interior lights off when the premises are not in use will definitely cut waste. In addition, the Law will require non-residential buildings to switch off their exterior lighting (and shop window displays) between 1 am and 7am.[8] Again this will reduce waste, as there are few, if any shoppers at this time of night.  However, some lights or lighting systems are exempt from the French law. Some types of business premises are said to require high levels of light for security reasons. This ‘need’ argument is similar to that used to justify the premises that are exempt under the English/Welsh statutory nuisance law.[9] Moreover, the French Light Pollution Law does not apply to artificial light emitted from the security light sources which are on motion or heat sensors, as they are not on all the time.[10]  An exemption may also be made by local authorities for Christmas lighting which has clearly been part of French tradition for many years; or lighting for special events (including lighting displays in tourist areas and the Eiffel Tower).[11]
       Discussion
       It is submitted that the French law has, in setting a curfew of 1am for exterior business lighting balanced the competing interests of commerce with the negative effects of artificial lighting in the form of light pollution. There can be very few people shopping after 1am and perhaps most if not all consumers will be seeking traditional indoor night life inside clubs and bars at those times.  Additionally, the new law needs to be distinguished from French local authorities and Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy including other relevant stakeholders. The French Government currently concerns over the light pollution impacts have led to set out inappropriate or unwanted lighting bans in French jurisdictions, nevertheless there is still no specific legislation in France covering a variety of light pollution aspects, for example, the requirements for a lower lighting zone, the lighting control requirements and the multiple residential lighting requirement.
       Conclusion
       This paper accepts that the new French law is a significant step forward. It should in requiring lighting to be switched off, serve to significantly reduce light pollution, as well as save energy and cut carbon emissions. On the other hand, the new law is not designed to cover all aspects of the light pollution. This paper recommends that further gains may be made by considering the wider impact of light pollution ion future legislation.
        
       

       
       

       

       [1] Martin Morgan - Taylor. (2012). Light Pollution, Nuisance and Planning Laws in the UK: The Legal Methods of Controlling Light Pollution in the UK. Seoul: Center for Sustainable Healthy Buildings, pp. 258-260.
       

       

       [2] IDA, IDA International Headquarters, 3225 N. First Avenue,
       Tucson, Arizona 85719 USA.  For the definition see, http://www.darksky.org/Glossary
       

       

       [3] Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution. (2009). Artificial Light in the Environment. London: Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, p. 2, at paragraph 1.3.
       

       

       [4] Id.
       

       

       [5] Illuminating Engineer Society and International Dark - Sky Association. (2011). Joint IDA - IES Model Lighting Ordinance (MLO) with User's Guide. New York: Illuminating Engineer Society, pp. 2-3.
       

       

       [6] Kyba, C., et al. (2011). 'Lunar skylight polarization signal polluted by urban lighting'. Journal of Geophysical Research. (in press).
       

       

       [7] Arrêté du 25 janvier 2013 relatif à l'éclairage nocturne des bâtiments non résidentiels afin de limiter les nuisances lumineuses et les consommations d'énergie  Article 2 (différé) En savoir plus sur cet article …
       Les éclairages intérieurs de locaux à usage professionnel sont éteints une heure après la fin de l'occupation de ces locaux.
       Les illuminations des façades des bâtiments sont éteintes au plus tard à 1 heure.
       Les éclairages des vitrines de magasins de commerce ou d'exposition sont éteints au plus tard à 1 heure ou une heure après la fin de l'occupation de ces locaux si celle-ci intervient plus tardivement.
       

       

       [8] Arrêté du 25 janvier 2013 relatif à l'éclairage nocturne des bâtiments non résidentiels afin de limiter les nuisances lumineuses et les consommations d'énergie Article 3 (différé) En savoir plus sur cet article...
       Les éclairages des vitrines de magasins de commerce ou d'exposition peuvent être allumés à partir de 7 heures ou une heure avant le début de l'activité si celle-ci s'exerce plus tôt.
       Les illuminations des façades des bâtiments ne peuvent être allumées avant le coucher du soleil.
       

       

       [9] S. 79(5B) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.  This lists- ‘airports, public service vehicle operating centres, harbours, goods vehicle operating centres, railway premises, lighthouses, tramway premises, prisons, bus stations and associated facilities, premises occupied for defence purposes.’
       

       

       [10] Arrêté du 25 janvier 2013 relatif à l'éclairage nocturne des bâtiments non résidentiels afin de limiter les nuisances lumineuses et les consommations d'énergie  Article 1 (différé) En savoir plus sur cet article...
       Le présent arrêté s'applique aux installations d'éclairage des bâtiments non résidentiels, recouvrant à la fois l'éclairage intérieur émis vers l'extérieur de ces bâtiments et l'illumination des façades de bâtiments, à l'exclusion des installations d'éclairage destinées à assurer la protection des biens lorsqu'elles sont asservies à des dispositifs de détection de mouvement ou d'intrusion.
       

       

       [11] Arrêté du 25 janvier 2013 relatif à l'éclairage nocturne des bâtiments non résidentiels afin de limiter les nuisances lumineuses et les consommations d'énergie  Article 4 (différé) En savoir plus sur cet article...
       Les préfets peuvent déroger aux dispositions des deux derniers alinéas de l'article 2 la veille des jours fériés chômés, durant les illuminations de Noël, lors d'événements exceptionnels à caractère local définis par arrêté préfectoral et dans les zones touristiques d'affluence exceptionnelle ou d'animation culturelle permanente mentionnées à l'article L. 3132-25 du code du travail.
       

       



 
 
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