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What can we do about service station spotlights pointing directly at our home?

‘The lamps are quite powerful and shine through our curtains which is particularly problematic at night’

We live directly across the road from a 24-hour service station. Some months back they upgraded and refocused the perimeter lighting (spotlights), resulting in four of the six lights pointing directly at ours and our neighbours’ houses. The lamps are quite powerful and shine through our curtains, which is particularly problematic in the bedrooms in terms of sleeping, and when we open our front door after dark we have to shield our eyes.

We raised this with the manager who suggested we write a letter to the owner (it is privately owned). Last May we wrote a polite letter, explaining the problem and inviting him or his representative to come over after dark to see the problem first-hand. To date we have had no response and feel we are being ignored. We are both in our 70s and would prefer to avoid going legal on this for both health and financial reasons. We would welcome any advice which you feel might resolve this amiably.

While your suspicion that your polite letter is being ignored could be correct, if an amiable resolution is the goal, I would recommend satisfying yourself that your letter was delivered to the registered business address. If not, I would re-send the letter by registered post.

If the owner engages, good and well. If the owner engages but resolution cannot be reached between you, mediation is worth considering. Mediation is a voluntary, confidential process that allows parties resolve their conflict in a mutually agreeable way with the help of a mediator who acts as an independent third party. This option is less adversarial, cheaper and more expeditious than litigation.


If the owner does not respond to any further letter or engage voluntarily, you could consider going down the local authority route. Depending on conditions imposed by the local authority regarding the external lighting component of the service station development, the refocused lights could be unauthorised and in breach of planning permission.

The carrying out of unauthorised development is an offence prosecuted by local authorities. Anyone can make a planning enforcement complaint with the relevant authority. There will be details on the enforcement process and contact details for the planning enforcement section on your local authority’s website. If you do not have internet access, I suggest telephoning or visiting your local authority offices to inquire further.

If attempts at informal resolution and/or mediation fail or the local authority does not take enforcement action, legal recourse is an option. Private nuisance is a civil action which an owner or occupier of property may take before the courts against another seeking compensation or an order preventing unreasonable interference, in the enjoyment of that property.

Litigated civil actions can be lengthy, stressful and costly. The outcome of an action can never be guaranteed. As a means of resolving the matter at hand, litigation should be a last resort.

Katie Cadden is a solicitor and mediator with P O’Connor & Son solicitors in Co Mayo

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