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Great Leighs bids to calm fears of light pollution

GREAT LEIGHS, which staged its first floodlit meetinglast Thursday, has moved to allay local residents' fears over lightpollution and glare, while at the same time refuting allegations it had erected parts of its lighting system without planning permission.

The Essex track had to leave the floodlights on for two consecutive nights as part of a period of testing in conjunction with American contractor Musco.

During the testing, residents became concerned with the amount of glow produced, as it was visible from several miles away, creating what one complainant described as"a false dawn".

Braintree district councillor James Abbott was also unhappy with the lights, saying they produced "the most amazing light pollution I've ever seen".

He added: "The light's so intense it beams down on to the track and bounces straight up into the sky. The vertical lux casts shadows six miles away."

In a bid to beat the problem, visors have been flown from the US to attach to the bulbs, although Abbott said: "They may stop the glare but not the pollution."

The councillor also claimed Chelmsford Borough Council was being "cagey" over planning permission for the lights and alleged Great Leighs may have installed more lights than it should have done.

This was denied by Pippa Cuckson, director of communications at the track, who said: "The floodlights are built as per our longstanding planning permission, including to the agreed lux levels, and we've tested them in conjunction with representatives of Essex County Council and Chelmsford Borough Council.

"The level of light spillage and glow shown during testing was concerning some neighbours and non-residents. It was hard to monitor the extent, as we had only three complaints initially, which included James Abbott's.

"We flew over additional visors this week, which have already been mounted to some of the bulbs, and which Musco believe will reduce further spillage. It will never mitigate glow - which is reflected off the ground - and neither have we ever said it would."

A statement from Chelmsford Borough Council read: "To meet safety requirements for horseracing authorities and media needs, additional lighting columns were erected earlier this year. An application to include these and existing columns is expected imminently.

"It is clear someof the lights require realignment to ensure a better coverage of the racing circuit and less intrusion into the night sky and neighbouring properties.

"Since their first testing, the council and county highway authority have worked closely with the showground and their contractors to achieve a satisfactory outcome."


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