Technical Feature: Australia

Legislative Assembly for the Australian Capital Territory
Standing Committee on Planning and Environment

Report No. 38 - November 1997

Resolution of appointment of the Standing Committee on Planning and Environment: that a Standing Committee on Planning and Environment be established to examine matters related to planning, land management, transport, commercial development, infrastructure and capital works, science and technology, the environment, conservation, heritage, energy and resources;

And that the committee inquire into and report on matters referred to it by the Assembly or matters that are considered by the committee to be of concern to the community.

Further that if the Assembly is not sitting when the Standing Committee on Planning and Environment has completed consideration of a report on draft Plan variations referred pursuant to Section 25 of the Land ({Planning and environment) Act 1991 or draft Plans of Management referred pursuant to Section 203 of the Land (Planning and Environment ) Act 1991, the Committee may send its report to the Speaker or, in the absence of the Speaker, to the Deputy Speaker, who is authorised to give directions for its printing and circulation.

Minutes of Proceedings (Third Assembly) No. 1 Thursday 9 March 1995, amended 22 June 1995.

Committee Membership:

The terms of reference for the inquiry were set out in the following resolution of the Assembly on 27 February 1997:


(1) This Assembly calls on the Standing Committee on Planning and Environment to inquire into the provision of quality outdoor lighting in the A. C.T. and to make recommendations on the most appropriate strategies to be implemented as part of an overall plan to protect and enhance Canberraís night sky;

(2) in the course of the inquiry, the particular strategies the Comnmittee should investigate will include:

(a) minimising light pollution having regard for outcomes for safety, security and tourism;

(b) requiring the Department of Urban Services to develop performance indicators for all of the street, path and outdoor space lighting under its control to ensure that spill light, sky glow and other wastage is minimised;

(c) tougher legislation to govern private outdoor lighting: and

(d) the basis of a cooperative Federal/A.C.T. agreement on outdoor lighting for the A.C.T.


This report by the Standing Committee on Planning and Environment follows a six-month examination of issues surrounding the provision of quality outdoor lighting in the A.C.T.

Many submitters assisted the committee, which benefited greatly from the written and oral material provided by the A.C.T. Government, the National Capital Authority, the Mount Stromlo and Siding Springs Observatory, a number of lighting associations and companies, and various individuals.

In the course of its inquiry the committee came to a view about what ìquality outdoor lightingî means. The committee considers that it is cost-effective and energy-saving lighting designed for a specific task and which facilitates public safety, security and recreation while preserving dark skies to the maximum extent possible.

The committee has concluded that not all aspects of Canberra's outdoor lighting meet this definition.In order to ensure quality lighting for present and future generations, the committee considers that specific steps should be taken. In terms of action that can be taken in the short term, the committee has recommended that:

1.the Government hasten the current program to replace mercury vapour lighting in Weston Creek by,preferably, low-pressure sodium lighting.

2.the Government take appropriate steps to protect the quality of the outdoor lighting environment inthe vicinity of Canberra Planetarium at Dickson. This may involve the installation of full cutoff lights along part of Antill Street, Dickson, and on the nearby sportsground.

3.the A.C.T. Government improve the coordination of matters affecting the standard of outdoor lighting (both public and private) by identifying one government agency as having overall responsibility for setting lighting standards and monitoring the implementation of those standards.

4.the Government facilitate active participation by its agencies in the development and testing ofAustralian Standards for lighting. Further, that - where appropriate - one or more Government agencies join, as institutional members, the International Dark Sky Association.

5.the Government ensure that high quality, down-only lighting is installed at all new sports grounds and at those existing sports grounds that are being refurbished. This includes the grounds at BruceStadium, Phillip and Manuka.

In terms of action that should be taken in the longer term, the committee recommends that:

6.the Government institute a cost-benefit analysis to determine the payback time of directionally efficient street lighting. The analysis should be reported to the Legislative Assembly.

7.the Government establish a body (comprising representatives of business, the tourist industry, police, government agencies and especially lighting professionals and retailers) to develop astrategy to promote the use of full cutoff lanterns in streetlights, carparks, car saleyards and other locations.

8.the Government commission a cost-benefit analysis of the introduction of low-pressure sodium luminaires of the full cutoff type in all street applications, and call for expressions of interest in mass-producing an add-on shield for existing luminaires. The result of the cost-benefit analysis should be reported to the Assembly.

9.the Government facilitate the development of an educational strategy to inform the people of the A.C.T. about the way that quality outdoor lighting can be provided. Representatives of business,the tourism industry, police, resident groups, astronomical groups, lighting professionals andretailers, the National Capital Authority, and other interested persons and organisations shouldbe involved in developing the strategy. Demonstration projects and sponsorships should beencouraged by the educational strategy.

10.the Government establish an advisory body to prepare an outdoor lighting code for the A.C.T. andto recommend how best to ensure compliance with the code. The advisory body should include, atthe least, representatives of business, the tourism industry, National Capital Authority, police,resident groups, astronomical groups, lighting professionals and retailers. The lighting codes for Tucson and Arizona (in the US) and the codes submitted to this inquiry by the Astronomical Society of Victoria and the Outdoor Lighting Reform Action Group are useful starting-off points.

The committee considers that community consultation might be facilitated by involving an Assembly committee in this process and hence, the committee suggests that its successor committee in the Fourth Assembly (to be elected in February 1998) might take up this challenge.

In terms of matters that involve liaison with the Commonwealth Government, the committee recommends


11.the A.C.T. Government work with the National Capital Authority to minimise excessive lighting of ceremonial or national features of Canberra, including the outdoor lighting of Parliament House, Old Parliament House and Telstra Tower.

12.the A.C.T. Government bring all possible pressure on the Commonwealth Government to fund those elements of Canberra (including lighting) that relate to the cityís national role.

13.the A.C.T. Government and the National Capital Authority investigate the development of a lighting master plan for Canberra, to be integrated into the marketing of Canberra as a tourist destination.


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