The Ministry for the Environment, Climate Change and Planning launched a public consultation process for new guidelines on light pollution for the Planning Authority (PA) and the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA).
The scope of these guidelines is to halt the negative effects of light pollution in the Maltese islands.
Minister Aaron Farrugia said that people are not aware of the negative effects light pollution has. He explained that the installation of high-intensity artificial lighting, LED billboards and other sources of artificial light have a considerable effect on our everyday life. Which is why illuminated billboards and signs along Malta’s roads, except those that give traffic-related information, must be switched off at 11 pm according to new guidelines on light pollution.
“Apart from negative effects on our flora and fauna, scientific studies have shown that light pollution may affect public health and affect sleep patterns. Light pollution may also affect criminality rates in particular areas, reduce the visibility of the night sky and increase energy consumption,” the minister said.
Public consultation for these guidelines will allow for better planning in the use of artificial lighting outdoors, without impinging on public health and our country’s natural heritage.
One of the main things proposed is the inclusion of Dark Sky Heritage Areas on the Maltese main islands, similar to those already found on Gozo and Comino.
Areas such as Natura 2000 sites, COE Emerald Network sites, and natural and biodiversity conservation sites should be protected from artificial light.
“The main challenge for these guidelines is that this will not manage to affect the light pollution from existing projects, but it will affect proposed and other future projects. The main objectives of these guidelines are to increase awareness on the negative impact of obtrusive light, highlight the benefits of well-designed external lighting, emphasise the protection to protect dark rural areas from light pollution and guide individuals and organizations to make the best use of artificial light”, Minister Farrugia said.