Buglife and artificial light

Light pollution impacts on humans and other species and on the planet in terms of energy consumption and contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. It deserves a place in the Environment Bill.

We have all had a very good briefing from Buglife, which I thank very much, supported by Butterfly Conservation, the Bat Conservation Trust, Froglife, the Mammal Society and the Royal Astronomical Society. This comes from a lot of areas of expertise. They all draw attention to the fact that light pollution impacts on humans and other species. I argue that it also impacts on the planet in terms of energy consumption and contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, whether we use LED lights or not. It deserves a place in the Environment Bill.

The last comprehensive consideration of this issue by the Government was the 2009 report of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, Artificial Light in the Environment. Almost none of its recommendations have been implemented, and tackling this cannot be achieved by planning alone. There is also the fact that humans have evolved to rely on the cycle of night and day to govern our physiology. I am a very primitive soul: I would actually like to go to bed when it gets dark and I always wake up at first light, so I am extremely vulnerable to light exposure at the wrong time. I would like the Government Whips to note that when they insist on keeping us here beyond 8 pm. It is inhuman; it goes against human health, and it leads to underperforming. There is also a link to health conditions. We are much better off if we understand that light pollution is not good for us and it is not good for other species.

Lord Randall, mentioned several species. I would like to add birds that migrate or hunt at night: they navigate by moonlight and starlight, so artificial light might cause them to fly to lit areas, which may or may not have their prey. Many marine species, such as crabs or zooplankton, are attracted to artificial lights, and that can disrupt their feeding and life cycle. All in all, it is an important environmental issue that we really should not ignore.

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