‘It’s like living on the moon’: Bright Canonbury streetlights making birds tweet at 2am and keeping neighbours awake

PUBLISHED: 17:19 19 December 2019 | UPDATED: 17:37 19 December 2019

Bright street lights in Halliford Street are impacting on neighbours sleep and making birds tweet at 2am. Picture: Richard Holmes

Bright street lights in Halliford Street are impacting on neighbours sleep and making birds tweet at 2am. Picture: Richard Holmes


A neighbour says “horribly bright” streetlights in Canonbury are making birds tweet from 2am onwards and shortening his sleep.

Birds tweeting - 3.30am

Birds tweeting - 3.30am #caughtonNestCam

Richard Holmes says the LED lights outside his home in Halliford Street glare through his bedroom window - and he worries they're having a "devastating" effect on the Canonbury conservation area's ecosystem.

Islington will have changed all of its 11,350 street lights to environmentally friendly LEDs by 2022, saving an estimated £400,000 and 1,414 tonnes of carbon a year.

But Richard told the Gazette: "I'm not normally one of these people who complains to the council. We moved in in July and really liked the area and then came home from work one day and I was like: 'Oh my god, the lights are insane'. [...]

"My whole house is floodlit. The street is like a movie set, it's like living on the moon or being invaded. [...]

"It transformed the area, it used to have a cosy neighbourhood feel but now it feels like you're under constant surveillance.

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"We live in a conservation area and there's a lot of wildlife and you can actually hear the birds tweeting throughout the night, 2am is when they start. It seems like they're very confused."

CCTV footage captured on the Nest camera outside Richard's house evidence the birds tweeting in the early hours.

Canonbury Conservation Society is aware of the issue and will be in contact with the council.

Richard says came to assess the problem and have installed a shield to block some of the light, which he says has helped but not solved the problem.

He added: "The council has been responsive and helpful which is great but I think the wider environmental impact hasn't been considered."

Earlier this month, an Islington Council spokesperson said: "We've installed LED street lights across Islington as they are more energy efficient, helping to reduce carbon impact and also to reduce costs. Many other local authorities across the UK and worldwide are taking similar steps.

"We will carry out an after-dark inspection of Halliford Street to check the lighting design, and see if we can reduce brightness while still achieving the required levels of light on the road and footways."

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