Sections 97 and 98 of the Highways Act 1980 provide for the lighting of a publicly maintainable highway by a highway authority. Although primarily designed to cover the lighting of streets and roads, the legislation applies to all publicly maintainable rights of way. The authority may delegate powers to a lighting authority, that is, a council or other body authorised to provide lighting under s.161 or the Public Health Act 1875 or s.3 of the Parish Councils Act 1957. Lighting may also be considered when a path is to be approved and subsequently adopted under s.38 of the Highways Act 1980. Some areas have local Acts that may give additional powers.
When lighting is provided on rights of way it is most commonly in urban areas, but there may be instances of lighting provided in non-urban areas to meet particular needs. Factors to be considered when deciding whether or not to provide lighting include:
- increased amenity;
- personal safety;
- obtrusiveness: light pollution and light trespass can present serious physiological and ecological problems ;
- whether the lighting may encourage young people to meet and "hang round" on the path;
- whether or not the lighting is appropriate to the area;
- cost of installation;
- cost of maintenance.
Safety and security are not always improved by installing lighting. It has to be remembered that bright lights do not necessarily give more security than lower lighting levels. Dazzling lights can cause deep shadow, which has the effect of compromising security. Lighting on vehicular routes may have the effect of discouraging drivers to adapt to night-time conditions.
If it is decided to install lighting, careful consideration of the design and positioning of the lighting can minimise glare and light pollution.
Relevant publications and standards
Road Lighting, British Standard BS 5489, 1987 Chartered Institute of Building Service Engineers (CIBSE) publications:
- LC1 Code for Interior Lighting
- LG1 The Industrial Environment
- LG4 Sports
- LG6 The Exterior Environment
- 12.2 Road Lighting
International Commission on Illumination (CIE) publications:
- 68 Exterior Working Areas
- 83 Sports Lighting
- 92 Urban Lighting
- 94 Guide for Floodlights
Road Lighting and the Environment, Department of Transport, 1993
Lighten Our Darkness, Royal Fine Art Commission,1994
Guidance Notes for the Reduction of Light Pollution, Institution of Lighting Engineers, 1994