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Understanding the world’s most progressive lighting policy

With so much happening in the world right now, it is easy to miss some of the good news. Did you know that in January, France took the first steps in implementing its National Light Pollution Policy, which is said to be among the most progressive in the world?

The new policy comes into play in phases. This year - new installations must comply and older lighting adjusted to meet ULR targets; setting an important standard in western Europe for the protection of nighttime darkness by controlling the emission of light in outdoor spaces - some of the most detailed steps we have seen so far.

Let’s have a look at the details and why France has taken the lead.

We have all been alarmed by reported growth rates for lit areas of European countries and the intensity of up-light and light spill that is detected from space. Well, the French Decree of 27 December 2018 on the prevention, reduction, and limitation of light pollution took a significant step forward in establishing robust national-level policies that can help make real change.

The policy is formed of two parts, the first establishes technical requirements for the design and operation of outdoor lighting installations and imposes these regulations on both public and private property owners. It outlines several directions that apply to most outdoor lighting applications, from roads, parks, and building surrounds, to monuments, sports facilities, and car parks. The second part specifies eleven sites of astronomical observatories throughout France that receive special consideration for the highest level of protection.

The key points

Outdoor lighting curfews specify times of the night when lighting must be dimmed or switched off depending on the type of application.

  • Upward Light Ratio (ULR) is limited to less than 1% of the total emission of a given fixture.

  • Reduced glare zone - 95% of the light emission must be confined to angles at or below approximately 14.5 degrees from the horizontal.

  • Reduced blue light. The correlated colour temperature (CCT) must not exceed 3000K, following current International Darksky Association guidance, with even lower limits set for conservation areas.

  • Reduced lumens. The amount of light used in any installation must not exceed 35 lumens per square metre of the illuminated target surface per square metre.

  • No light trespass into dwellings.

  • The use of sky beams, lasers, and similar high-intensity light is generally prohibited.

  • Nighttime lighting of waterways is generally prohibited, including light shining out to sea.

What makes this policy stand out?

For the first time, we are seeing a real attempt to set clear intent by establishing meaningful national rules “designed to prevent, limit, and reduce light pollution, including excessive disturbance to persons, fauna, flora or ecosystems, causing energy wastage or preventing observation of the night sky.”

All of France is covered and must comply, even much-loved national monuments and churches.

However, it is all doable. The policy takes a sensible, measured approach that still allows the lighting of all applications, limiting the impact on the environment. A lesson we could all learn from.

It will be interesting to see the effects of the new policy and the response from the rest of the world; will we all follow suit or sit back and wait to see what happens?

As the sole UK distributor for Eclatec, we’re proud to represent a range of fully compliant products, designed and manufactured in France.

For further information email or call me us on +44(0)203 633 4366


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