Outdoor lights disturbing the neighbourhood

| 18/02/2019
Ask Auntie, CNS Local Life, Caymanian status

Recently one of my neighbours put up some very bright security lights in his large backyard. The lights are on very high poles and the way the lights are aimed they not only illuminate his yard but a good portion of others such as mine. It is like living next to a sports stadium all lit up at night. There is no such thing now as sitting on the back porch and watching the stars. The lights are on all night and a quite a nuisance. I have not had any luck contacting him. He is a prominent individual on the island. Are there laws or regulations controlling this type of thing and if I am unable to contact him and get any satisfaction, how would one go about making a formal complaint and who would it be made to?

Auntie’s answer: Unfortunately, I can understand the need for security lights and wish we were still living in the times when doors and cars could remain unlocked whether or not you were home or nearby. But that doesn’t mean your backyard has to be lit like it is a prison compound.

I couldn’t find anything in law that specifically addressed what seems to me to be light pollution so I contacted the Department of Planning for help. You need to email planning.compliance@gov.ky and tell them the location of the property with the security lights. The department will then “investigate to determine if the installation requires a grant of planning permission and/or a permit”, an official explained.

I also want to comment on your description of your neighbour as a “prominent individual”. Perhaps I am assuming too much but I can’t help but feel that your subtext alludes to a concern that the high profile of the person might preclude any appropriate action being taken. At the risk of triggering a backlash of commenters calling me naïve, the straightforward response of the planning official indicates to me that the issue is clear-cut: either your neighbour needs to apply for the requisite permission or does not. It should be just that simple.

If your neighbour does need a permit for the lights, I believe that would be your opportunity to register a formal complaint. If they do not require planning permission, I am not sure what your options are. I would be very interested in hearing the results of the investigation and the next steps you take. Please write to let me know. This could also be very helpful to others who find themselves in a similar situation.

Send questions to auntie@caymannewsservice.com

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Category: Ask Auntie, Planning Questions

Comments (7)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Get those iguana hunters in the yard and accidentally shoot all the light bulbs out. They don’t have insurance. There are no repercussions for them and plus for you.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Our neighbours have had a light that faces into their yard for years. I never noticed it until the bulb was recently switched out by CUC to one of the new LEDs. It now casts a light as bright as sunlight over both yards. The light is so intense that even our blackout blinds cannot properly keep it out, and the light that enters the bedroom through the 1/2″ crack in the side of the blackout blind is enough to illuminate the entire bedroom! I’m not sure what the effect must be on the wildlife.

    I feel that although LED bulbs certainly have an important place(we use them in our home), their use in residential outdoor spaces should be looked at more carefully. I understand that many councils in the UK are reverting to sodium bulbs in their street lighting due to the LEDs disrupting sleep.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Is your neighbour Sean Paul?

  4. Anonymous says:

    This is not an annoyance issue. This is about Cayman being years behind and NOT EVEN BEING AWARE that exposure to artificial light at night can harm your health.

    There is no person exist in the world who is not aware of breast cancer, yet, nobody is aware that artificial light at night can contribute to breast cancer.

    We are now aware of congenital heart disease. But nobody is aware that exposure to artificial light during pregnancy could be one of the causes of congenital birth defects.

    Artificial lights after sunset confuses not only human cells (physiology). Birds, animals, insects, marine life and plants are all affected.

    European CommissionDG Health & ConsumersPublic healthScientific CommitteesArtificial Light
    Artificial Light homeSource document:
    SCENIHR (2012)

    Health Effects of Artificial Light http://ec.europa.eu/health/scientific_committees/opinions_layman/artificial-light/en/index.htm

    The Harmful Effects of Light Pollution http://www.gogreen.org/blog/the-harmful-effects-of-light-pollution

    Fertility Problems: Why Artificial Light Harms Chance of Pregnancy For Middle-Aged Women https://www.medicaldaily.com/fertility-problems-why-artificial-light-harms-chance-pregnancy-middle-aged-women-349358

    • Anonymous says:

      In women who are already pregnant, interference with melatonin levels can affect the health of the unborn child. If the fetus doesn’t get the right amount of melatonin from their mother, their biological clock can become confused. A lack of adequate melatonin levels has been linked to behavioral problems such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or autism in young children.

  5. Anonymous says:

    If you are able to contact the individual, perhaps he/she would compromise by having the sensors on the lights to only switch on of someone approaches the property?