Clear The Air Energy Blog Rotating Header Image

May, 2008:

Ad Signs Which Cause Light Pollution

Get tough on firms’ ad signs which cause light pollution

Updated on May 01, 2008 – SCMP

Friends of the Earth wants people to report light pollution (“Public urged to report cases of light pollution”, April 21).

Colleagues have complained for years about light pollution affecting their homes and their children’s studies. They resent having to pay high energy bills because they must keep their curtains drawn and cannot open their windows to natural ventilation.

They have not complained as this is futile. The response from the Environmental Protection Department is that there is no legislation controlling light pollution. This is why only 40 complaints about such pollution were lodged last year. If there was any chance of action being taken the complaints would be in their thousands.

Often the large advertising signs, which block rows of windows and beam bright lights into flats, are erected without authorisation; many exceed the maximum recommended footage. The Buildings Department only checks if the sign complies with its regulations and poses no danger to the public. It admits it does not have the manpower to check all signs. Large and intrusive advertising signs have taken over many neighbourhoods as companies are aware of the lack of regulation and know that they can brush off complaints.

The Hong Kong citizen’s right to quiet enjoyment of his own home is not being upheld and advertising signage should be subject to an environmental impact evaluation. Large signs close to residential blocks should be banned. Windows are an essential feature of most buildings to provide natural light and ventilation. Building regulations, I believe, prohibit the construction of rooms without windows except in particular cases. Large signs that cover windows should therefore be banned. Approved signage should be re-evaluated every five years or so as new residential blocks may have been recently erected nearby.

That Hong Kong people are forced to leave the homes they have slaved to purchase is a situation that should no longer be tolerated. Voters in the upcoming Legco elections should ensure that a promise to combat light and other forms of pollution is included in their candidates’ manifestos.

Martin Brinkley, Ma Wan