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French authorities failing to monitor night light ban, say dark sky advocates

A new law bans French businesses from leaving lights on needlessly at night. But who's policing it?

The French government is failing to enforce its ban on leaving lights on in unoccupied offices and shops at night, according to the French dark sky association ANPCEN.

The association has been keeping tabs on the effect of the law since it came into force in April 2013. In its latest report it says progress has been made in some places, but that the picture remains patchy, and that there is ‘no monitoring’ by central and local government.

Lux contacted France’s Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy for comment, but no reply had been received at the time of publication.

In a study of changes made in cities and towns across the country, ANPCEN said that  Paris, Lille, Angers and Saumur had made good progress, while Lyon, Chambery and St Junien ‘could do more’.

Some municipalities are saving tens of thousands of euros a year on electricity as a result of turning lights off at night, ANPCEN said. The town of Saumur in the Loire Valley saved €84,500.

France’s lighting industry association, the Syndicat de l’Eclairage, gave the measure a cautious welcome when it came into force in April 2013, but urged the government to focus more on promoting energy-saving retrofits, which have the potential to save far more energy than simply turning off lights after hours.

ANPCEN said that building owners had now had more than enough time since the law was announced, to consider it and work out how to comply.

Watch Lux’s video from 2013 on the night-time lighting ban: