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« Lights | Main | Lights factsheet »

October 4, 2001

Lights

Mitra located on the net: <a href="http://www.asv.org.au/lpoll/lppage.htm">Outdoor Lighting Principles for Australia in the 21st Century</a> - Dr Barry.Clark - Astronomical Society of Victoria Inc.

Mitra contacted the author who responded quickly. See the document and correspondance.


See "File"

Letter to Barry Clark and response.

Hi
I recently saw your paper on "Outdoor Lighting Principles for Australia". We have recently learned of RTA (Regional Transport Authority, i.e. the NSW roads) plans to install massive lighting at a new interchange in the area covered by our organization. Many members are upset since the night sky here is relatively unpolluted by light.
I was wondering if you knew of any resources for fighting such a plan - the RTA is notoriously difficult to fight, there doesn't seem to be any control that the local council has over it.

- Mitra


Date: Thu, 04 Oct 2001 19:30:15 +1000
From: Barry Clark <bajc@alphalink.com.au>
Subject: Re: Resources for protesting highway lighting project

Mitra,
Given that the growth of outdoor lighting as indicated by the brightness of urban skyglow has doubled in Melbourne since 1990 and that the situation in Sydney appears to be similar, then with some reasonable assumptions such as that there has not been much change in lighting efficacy etc., the growth in power usage for outdoor lighting must also have doubled. This means that greenhouse gas emissions in connection with outdoor lighting must have increased by roughly twenty times the rate Australia has asked to apply to itself under the Kyoto protocol. Lighting growth is well outstripping the total growth in electric power consumption. This is not shown in the stats from the Australian Greenhouse Office. There is no reason to believe that country NSW is any different from Sydney in this regard. In any case, NSW overall has a massive overgrowth problem in greenhouse gases and now is not the time to make it worse by sticking up even more lights.

There is some evidence that road lighting reduces the accident rate but there are diminishing returns, and readaptation problems when leaving overlit areas. The RTA needs to justify its new lighting and to explain what other road lighting is to be removed to compensate, ie to keep the overall growth in line with the Kyoto protocol.

Local councils seem to be trying to come to grips with this through the Cities for Climate Protection programme although the basis of some of their targets is quite dodgy (eg they appear to be using 1996 as a base year instead of 1990).

I think that protests should go to the top, ie the Premier. Stir up the local council to do the same. Ask the NSW greenhouse whatsit why the RTA is being allowed to ignore the problem. Write to the Environment Minister about the loss of night sky affecting research, education, native wildlife and tourism. Get letters in the papers. Insist on the RTA changing all the State's road lighting to full cutoff as several states are now doing in the USA to save money and increase visibility and safety by reducing glare. The local council is responsible for lighting nuisance in its area regardless of what body causes it. The RTA can light the intersection but it doesn't have the right to inflict obtrusive lighting, glare and light pollution on the surroundings.

The best source for up-to-date info on fighting this sort of problem is the IDA website listed in my paper. They make the info freely available to all, not just to members.

The lighting industry in Australia seems to be well behind that in the USA on the issue of light pollution. Australian Standards are also lagging. It might be worth getting hold of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA) guide on outdoor lighting. Try their website. Get a local library to buy in a copy of the guide.

Get back to me if you need more ideas. Meanwhile the Sydney Outdoor Lighting Improvement Society might be worth catching up with - they will be better attuned to NSW politics. Their web address is also in my document.

Barry

Posted at October 4, 2001 12:00 AM

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