(The Lombardy low n.17/00, a proposal for a European Law against light pollution)
ILLUSTRATIVE REPORT ON THE PROPOSAL OF REGIONAL LOMBARDY LAW
URGENT MEASURES TO FIGHT THE LIGHT POLLUTION AND TO ACHIEVE ENERGY SAVING IN THE USE OF OUTDOOR LIGHTING
Due to the excess of public and private lighting, it is more and more difficult to find places, in our province, where the dark is such to allow an adequate vision of the celestial vault: on average only 10% of stars are by now visible on the territory, especially in the greater centres. We remain therefore deprived of the biggest natural show: the observation of the universe!
Uncontrolled wide-spreading of light pollution constitutes, as we will see, an unjustified energy waste, an alteration of the equilibrium of the ecosystem and an impediment, de facto, to the observation of the sky. Some studies made clear the disturb to the fauna and to the flora due to the lack of day-and-night alternation in the zones too much illuminated; as an example the damage to migratory birds is intuitive, since they use stars in order to orientate in the nocturnal flight. In the recent Italian legislation, a precise reference is made to the necessity to prevent the light pollution: in the law on the protected natural areas – law of December 6, 1991, n. 394 -, where, in the article 11, the ” light emissions” are indicated among the items that the park must discipline, in order to guarantee the pursuing of the conservation purposes and preservation of the natural patrimony. Also from a touristic point of view, the impact of highly illuminated areas is surely negative; to illustrate a real-life situation, the superb sceneries of ours Dolomiti must be protected also from this kind of pollution.
At the Conference of Paris, in June 1992, the Unesco evidenced the enormous damage brought to astronomy by an excessive artificial illumination and declared the starry sky “Patrimony of the mankind”, to be protected for the future generations.
In our region numerous astronomical associations are active, and dedicate their energies, with passion and engagement, to the popularization of astronomy, both to the large public and in the schools (from the first classes to the University of the Third age), and play a role also in the official scientific research; these activities endure heavy limitations due to uncontrolled spreading of the light pollution; this cultural patrimony must be therefore effectively protected.
2. THE LIGHT POLLUTION: CAUSES AND REMEDIES
The light pollution is due to the dispersal in the sky of the brightness produced by the lights of towns and cities. The origin of the problem depends on the fact that often the planning of the lighting systems and the design of the points of light, does not keep into account the possible light dispersions outside the area to be illuminated. The absence of a legislation on this matter favours in fact the uncontrolled (and a sometimes counter-productive) floodlight, and a consequent waste of energy, by private and public agencies and single citizens. According to data supplied from the International Dark Sky Association (Tucson, Arizona USA), and confirmed also in Italy by recent studies of the Italian Astronomical Society (S.A.It.), more than 30% of the public illumination is dispersed towards the sky, leading to a huge squander of public money, an irreparable damage to the astronomical research and culture and to the nocturnal image of the district. The importance of the astronomical research is demonstrated by the grants dedicated by all the industrial countries, Italy included. It has to pointed out that many lighting systems are now obsolete, since they are still based on incandescence or mercury vapours lamps, highly polluting on all the visible spectrum; these last ones must also be considered “special wastes”, being highly toxic, with higher disposal costs. In local realm, the problem is even more aggravated by the installation of rotary advertising beacons useful, perhaps, to few privates but surely harmful for the entire collectivity forced to endure, without any advantage, a new type of landscape degradation. Moreover, such beacons deliberately violate the Art. 23 of the New Code of the Road which prohibits, for safety reasons, their use and installation. It is however important to point out that the problem of the light pollution is technically solvable, without compromising the right of the citizens to have the roads illuminated in an adequate way. As an example, lamps habitually employed can be replaced, where possible, with high efficiency lamps like low-pressure sodium vapours lamps, less polluting and more efficient; the light dispersions could moreover be limited by use of full cut-off (totally shielded) systems or with asymmetric lamps equipped with appropriated shielding, directing the light sheaf with the right angle, from the high towards the bottom (avoiding therefore the floodlights inserted in the pavement). Equally important would be to adhere to the luminance values indicates in the directives and not to double or triple them without necessity. The suggestions are numerous and even the manufacturers of lighting systems offer, in their catalogues, some solutions provided that someone demands to them. Such situation is placed in evident violation of the norms that impose suitable and opportune methods in order to contain the energetic consumption within acceptable limits, dictated by the criterion of the real and consistent requirement (see the Italian Law n°10/1991 “Rules to actuate the National Energetic Plan for a rational use of energy, for energetic saving and development of the renewable sources of energy “).
The damage deriving from and uncontrolled use of electric energy is quantified every year in Italy in approximately 300-400 billions Liras, (esteem made for year ‘ 96, with annual increases of approximately 10%); with due calculations it is possible to deduce the economic damage for our district. Studies carried out by S.A.It. have shown that in medium-sized cities (approximately 50,000 inhabitants), savings for approximately 250 – 300 million Liras can be achieved, by means of a rational use of the energy in the public lighting only, diminishing at the same time the levels of light pollution and realizing also a fuel saving and consequently a lower emission of carbonic anhydride (CO2) into the atmosphere, the major responsible of “greenhouse effect”. It can be calculated that the hypothetical discouragement of the light pollution on the whole Italian territory will lead to a saving of 430,000 tons of fuel in a year; consequently 1,356,000 tons of carbonic anhydride would not be released, 1,480,000 tons of oxygen would not be burnt. From these considerations it is possible to confirm the importance and the urgency to approve a regional law that disciplines the lighting systems, both publics and private. It has to be observed, finally, that reducing the light pollution by the adoption of more modern planning criteria, means also to get cities better illuminated: in fact, avoiding that a part of light produced by the illumination systems goes dispersed towards the space, means to make it immediately available for a better visibility of the objects on the ground.
3. THE PROPOSED LAW: A SHORT COMMENT
The present law proposal is based on the one recently promulgated in Lombardy considered the best one among those approved up to now, according to those people who takes care the prevention of the light pollution. It is particularly effective in placing strict limits to the light dispersions. There are other regions that have been equipped with a law on lighting, e. g. Veneto, Tuscany, Lazio; in others the norm is still in phase of proposal. The approval of the present provision would allow Lombardy to overwhelm the legislative delay in this field.
Any modification, suggestion or adjustment of the present text has been done in agreement with the Coordination of the Astronomical Associations of Lombardy and CieloBuio; the law proposal is constituted from 12 articles.
Main aims are:
art.1 – the control of the energy consumptions deriving from the use of outdoor lighting systems, either public and private, the adequate choice of light sources and the protection of Astronomical observatories sites of regional and provincial importance, the reduction of light pollution on the provincial territory.
art.2 introduces the national laws which inspired the present law and the tasks the Region must assume in order to observe and to make the law observed.
art.3 characterize the delegations to the Regional Administration: address, promotion, advising and coordination, as well as dissemination of the general principles of the law and control on its application in the regional territory. The Region is also called to divulgate the knowledge of the principles of the law as well as, if there exists a protected Observatory in their territory, to compile the directory of the Municipalities which must conform to said law in due time.
art.4- the municipalities must adopt a plan for the lighting, in agreement to the present law, and guarantee its application and observation; they issue decrees in order to uniform the sources of light and apply the administrative endorsements, according to art.8, to not complying people and entreprises.
art.5 supplies directives about the protection of astronomical observatories of regional and provincial importance, which are called to monitor the zones of respect, pointing out illegitimate light sources.
art.6 provides specific standards, to be applied on the whole regional territory, to which constructors, importers and suppliers of lighting system and material will have to conform. New directives to correctly lighting monuments, railway and streets, parkings and sport arenas, are given.
art. 9 gives provisions to be adopted in the protected areas, determining of the “zones of respect”. In order not to leave an empty normative the zones of respect for professional observatories have been indicated.
art.10 lists to the observatories and the sites to be protected. Such directory will regularly updated according the previous art.5.
“URGENT MEASURES TO FIGHT THE LIGHT POLLUTION AND TO ACHIEVE ENERGY SAVING IN THE USE OF OUTDOOR LIGHTING”
1. The present law, according to what established in the article 3, paragraph 3, points 7, 8, 9 of the Statute of the Lombardy Region, has for deriving purposes the reduction of the light pollution and the reduction of energy consumptions on the regional territory, and consequently the protection of the activities of scientific research and popularisation carried out by the professional astronomical observatories of regional or provincial importance or other scientific observatories as well as the conservation of the ecological equilibriums either inside or outside the preserved natural areas.
2. (To the aims of the present law) it is considered as light pollution of the atmosphere every artificial light irradiation that is dispersed outside the areas to which it is functionally dedicated and, in particular way, if oriented above the line of the horizon.
(Tasks of the Region)
1. In order to actuate the National Energetic Plan the Regional Council stimulates the adaptation of the existing installations of outdoor lighting also in relation to the laws of January 9, 1991, n. 9 (“Rules to actuate the National Energetic Plan: institutional aspects, hydro-electric power plants and electric pipelines, hydrocarbons and geothermic, self-production and fiscal provisions”) and of January 9, 1991, n. 10 (“Rules to actuate the National Energetic Plan for a rational use of energy, for energetic saving and development of the renewable sources of energy “).
2. All contracts and their specifications relevant to the public and private lighting must be consistent with the aims of the present law.
(Tasks of the Districts)
1. The Districts (provinces):
a. do exert the control on the correct and rational use of the electric energy for outdoor lighting and provide to divulge the principles dictated in the present law;
b. do provide for the drawing up and the publication of the directory of the municipalities in whose territory there exists an astronomical observatory to be protected; such directory includes also the municipalities outside of the district territory, on condition that they are inside the specified zones of protection.
(Tasks of municipalities)
1. The municipalities:
a. do endow themselves, within three years from coming into force of the present law, with plans of lighting which will discipline all the new installations and plants in agreement with the present law, provided that the directives of letter d) and of art. 6, paragraph 1 will be respected;
b. do establish that all the installations of outdoor lighting, including those for advertising purposes, will be subjected to the authorization by the Mayor; thus the projects must be written up by one of the indicated professional figures for that field; the projects must be in agreement with the requirements of the present law and, at the end of the works, the setting up enterprises must issue a declaration of conformity of the lighting system, which has been realized according to articles 6 and 9, or, where indicated, a certificate of test in analogy with the directives of the law of March 5, 1990, n. 46 (Rules for the safety of plants and systems), for any existing installation inside buildings; the described procedure is applied also to the installations for public lighting; the care and the burdens of the tests are charged to the buyer of the systems;
c. do provide, by periodic controls on their own initiative or upon request of astronomical observatories, or other scientific observatories, to guarantee the respect and the application of the present law by private and public subjects, on the territories of their own competence; do issue appropriate decrees, within sixty days from coming into force of the present law, for the best application of the principles for the control both of light pollution and of energy consumptions deriving from the outdoor lighting, with specific indications to the release of building licences;
d. do provide, also upon request of the astronomical observatories or other scientific observatories, to the verification of the points of light not corresponding to the requirements of the present law, ordering their modification or replacement or in any case their conformation to the established criteria, within one year from the notification of the recognized irregularity, and, expired said time, within sixty days without any further delay;
e. do impose, where indicated, the administrative endorsements according to following article 8, employing of the corresponding proceeds for the aims of the same article.
(Directives in matter of astronomical observatories)
1. The National, astronomical, and astrophysical observatories, those professional and not professional ones of regional or provincial importance that carry out scientific research and/or popularisation of astronomy are protected by the present law.
2. The Regional Council, within 120 days from coming into force of the present law:
a. updates the directory of the observatories as defined in the following article 10, also on proposal of the Italian Astronomical Society and the Italian Amateur Astronomers Union;
b. issues an appropriate resolution to determine the corresponding respect zone.
3. The Regional Council, within 120 days from coming into force of the present law, characterizes by means of cartography in adequate scale the zones of protection, sending to the involved municipalities a copy of the cartographic documentation.
4. The astronomical observatories:
1. report to the competent territorial authorities the presence of sources of light not in conformity with the requirements of the present law, requesting the authorities intervention so that such lights will be modified or replaced or however conformed to the established criteria;
2. collaborate with the territorial agencies for a better and punctual application of the present law, according to their specific skills.
(Regulation of sources of light and the use of electric energy for outdoor lighting)
1. To put into effect what provided for in Article 1, starting from the date of coming into force of the present law, all the installations of artificial outdoor lighting, public and private, either in phase of planning or contract must be executed according to anti-light-pollution rules and to reduced energy consumption criteria; for those already in phase of execution, it is mandatory to utilize not light dispersing systems, if possible at once or followed by their successive adaptation, according to the criteria of the present article.
2.Only the systems, constituted by lighting apparatuses, having the maximum light intensity of 0 cd per 1000 lumen to 90° and beyond are considered as not light polluting and of reduced energy consumption; said apparatuses must be equipped with lamps having the highest possible efficiency in relation to the state of the technology; the same ones moreover must be realized in such a way that the illuminated surfaces do not exceed the minimal level of medium maintained luminance provided for the safety standards, and must be supplied with suitable control devices to reduce the emission of light not less than thirty percent regarding the full regimen of operativity, within 23.00 hours in the period of regular time and within 24.00 hours in the period of day-light saving time. Said emission reduction is applied when the conditions of use of the illuminated surface are such that the safety is not compromised; the directives regarding such control devices for the only reduction of the consumptions are optional for the structures belonging to activities for the public order, for the administration of the justice and the defense.
3. Exemptions are granted for not polluting internal sources of light, for those with emission not exceeding 1500 lumen each in systems of modest entity (up to three centers with one single point of light), for those of temporary use that are shut off within 20.00 hours in the period of regular time and within 22.00 hours in the period of day-light saving time.
4. The lighting of sign-boards not equipped with own lighting system must be realized by overhead lighting.
5. The use of reflectors, beacons and beacon-towers must be conformed, on the whole regional territory, according to what provided for in the following article 9.
6. The illumination of sport arenas and buildings and large areas of every type must be carried out employing criteria and means in order to avoid phenomena of light dispersion towards the sky and outside of the aforesaid surfaces.
7. The modification of the inclination of light sources, according to the criteria indicated in paragraph 2 of the present article, must be put into effect within eighteen months from coming into force of the present law.
8. The manufacturing, importing or supplier firms must certify the conformity to the present law of sources of light commercialized, among the technical characteristics, marking the product with the wording “anti-light-pollution and reduced energy consumption optic, according to the laws of the Lombardia Region”, and enclose, moreover, the recommendations for a correct use.
9. It is expressly prohibited the use of rotary or fixed advertising beam-lights or beacons of whichever type, for the mere advertising aim.
10. The illumination of buildings and monuments must be carried out by top-down lighting systems. Only if it is not technically possible and for subjects of particular and proven architectonic value, lighting must remain at least one meter under the upper edge of the surface to be illuminated and, in any case, within the perimeter of the same building or monument. The lighting systems must be supplied with suitable control devices to reduce the dispersion of the light (screens, fins) and to allow the total or partial shut off, or to reduce the power employed, within 23.00 hours in the period of regular time and within 24.00 hours in the period of day-light saving time.
1. The authorization to expenses provided for in the present law will be granted with a subsequent provision of law.
(Endorsements for protected zones)
1. Anyone, inside the zones of respect around the observatories protected by the present law, employs installations and sources of light not complying with the criteria indicated in articles 6 and 9 incur in the administrative endorsement from Liras 400,000 to Liras 1,200,000, in case said lighting is not modified within sixty days from the notification by the Municipal Police of the competent municipality.
2. The administrative endorsement from Liras 700,000 to Liras 2,100,000 is applied in case said lighting constitutes a remarkable source of light pollution, according to specific indications supplied by the competent astronomical observatories, and that are use at full power for all the duration of the night, even for simple advertising or voluptuary purposes.
3. The proceeds of said endorsements are employed by the municipality for the adaptation of the systems of public lighting according to the criteria provided for in the present law.
4. The public subjects, included the municipalities, omitting to conform to the criteria provided for in the present law within the periods of time indicated, are suspended from the benefit of reduction of the cost of the energy employed for the public lighting until they will adapt to said law and, within and not beyond four years, to the enforced norm.
5. The provision of previous paragraph 4 is adopted with deliberation of the Regional Council, after inspection and upon indication of the astronomical observatories territorially competent.
(Directives for the protected zones)
1. Around every astronomical observatory and their sites, as indicated in the present article, it is instituted a zone of particular protection from light pollution, inside the regional boundaries, having a radius of:
a. 30 kilometers for the professional observatories;
b. 15 kilometers for the not professional observatories.
2. Within four years from coming into force of the present law, all sources of light not complying to indicated criteria and situated inside the zones of respect must be replaced and modified in such a way to reduce the light pollution and the energy consumption, by means of the high- and low-pressure sodium vapours lamps only.
3. The private subjects can proceed, in immediate way, to adapt the light systems as from paragraph 2, installing appropriate screens on the lamp bodies, or substituting the protecting glass of the lamps, as well as substituting the whole lamp, provided that said adaptation will be analogous to what provided for in the present article and article 6.
4. In order to reduce the energy consumption, all the interested subjects can proceed, in absence of adjusting devices of the light intensity, to shut off 50 percent of sources of light within 23.00 hours in the period of regular time and within 24.00 hours in the period of day-light saving time; the directives regarding such control devices for the only reduction of the consumptions are optional for the structures belonging to activities for the public order, for the administration of the justice and the defense.
5. All highly polluting lighting apparatuses already existing, like globes, lanterns and alike, must be shielded or in any case equipped with suitable screening device apt to limit and to direct the light flow to the ground, as well as equipped with transparent protecting glass. In any case the light intensity must not exceed 15 cd per 1000 lumen to 90° and beyond. Exemption are granted, according to specific indications agreed between the municipality and the competent astronomical observatories, to internal, not polluting, sources of light, for those with emission not exceeding 1500 lumen each (up to three centers with one single point of light), for those of temporary use that are shut off within 20.00 hours in the period of regular time and within 22.00 hours in the period of day-light saving time, for those which substitution is planned within four years from coming into force of the present law. The lighting of sign-boards not equipped with own lighting system must be realized from the top towards the bottom. In any case all the sign-boards of not specific and indispensable nocturnal use must be shut off within 22.00 hours in the period of regular time and within 24.00 hours in the period of day-light saving time.
6. The inclination, with respect to ground, of beacons, beacon- towers and reflectors use to light parkings, railway and streets, large squares, yards, industrial plants, sport arenas and areas of every type must be such as not to irradiate more than 0 cd per 1000 lumen to 90° and beyond. Floodlights of asymmetric type must be privileged in the selection.
7. The modification of the inclination of light sources, according to the indicated criteria, must be carried out within six months from coming into force of the present law.
(Directory of the observatories)
1. The professional astronomical and astrophysical observatories to be protected are:
2. The not professional astronomical and astrophysical observatories of regional interest, having large cultural, scientific and popular importance to be protected are:
3. The not professional astronomical and astrophysical observatories of provincial importance which carry out any kind of scientific activity and/or popularization to be protected are:
1. The Regional Council emanates the criteria of application of the present law within 180 days from coming into force of said law.
2. The municipalities outside the zones of respect defined in the article 9, paragraph 1, may integrally adopt the criteria provided for in the same article by means of appropriate decrees.
(Coming into force)
The present law comes into force sixty days after its publication on the Official Bulletin of the Lombardy Region. The present regional law is published in the Official Bulletin of the Region.
It is compulsory to anyone to observe and to make to observe the present law, being it a law of the Lombardy Region.