Taipei plans to demolish or fine sources of light pollution

The China Post news staff

Taipei will soon forcibly demolish sources of light pollution and impose a NT$50,000 fine on their installers, owners, and users if such pollution violates standards being imposed by the city.

While the city’s “Light Pollution Management Autonomy Regulations,” a Taiwan first, are now being drafted, a Kaohsiung court yesterday ruled that the Kaohsiung Rapid Transit Corporation (KRTC) has to install reflective blinds for a bar whose owner, claiming that the strong reflected rays from the glass rooftop of the Rapid Transit System’s Formosa Boulevard Station were hurting his business as well as the eyes of his family, had initiated a lawsuit against it.

“The city government’s relevant departments will be told to enforce the regulations” once they clear the city council, Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin said yesterday, adding detailed rules and penalty standards will be established after consultations with experts and academics. Experts are said to be concerned about how the city government, now vigorously promoting the LED industry, strikes a balance between industrial development and the enforcement of the new regulations.

The allowable brightness of rays emitted from their sources and their perceivable reflection ratios will be specified, according to Commissioner of the Taipei City Government Department of Environmental Protection Wu Sheng-Chung (吳盛忠), who added violators will likely be fined anywhere between NT$5,000 and NT$50,000.

Taipei’s move came after numerous complaints, mostly about insomnia and restlessness caused by illuminated store signs, LED display boards, advertisement lamp boxes and light panels, neon lights and projection advertisements.

Others have voiced their objections to light pollution resulting from the use of mirror-surface or reflective materials in buildings, windows, and on rooftops. Between 2005 and 2011, the Taipei City Government received a total of 92 complaints about light pollution.

Citing a recent study, the Chinese-language United Evening News applauded the city’s move, saying in its Tuesday, March 27 issue that “improper night time light” could cause insomnia, speed up aging, disrupt metabolic processes and raise cancer risks.