image image

Environment

Heavy on light? Hong Kong LED screen size of five tennis courts sparks community concern

Located on roadside facade in busy shopping district, installation is one of largest in Asia-Pacific

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 October, 2017, 9:33pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 October, 2017, 9:39am

Concerns on worsening light pollution have been raised after a new LED screen in the size of five tennis courts started operating on Friday in the heart of Hong Kong’s shopping district Causeway Bay already notorious for being very bright at night.

The screen was installed on the facade of the Sogo department store, located in Causeway Bay, and has a surface area of around 1,400 square metres, one of the largest in the Asia-Pacific region.

The towering LED billboard has worried anti-light pollution campaigners that it will cause a nuisance to nearby residents and add to the problem.

“We asked [Sogo] to not install the LED board, but they refused. I think Causeway Bay residents nearby will be affected by those lights,” Roy Tam Hoi-pong of the environmental activist group Green Sense said.

I think Causeway Bay residents nearby will be affected by those lights
Roy Tam, Green Sense

Tam said he had been campaigning against the construction of the LED board for the last six months.

A spokeswoman for Sogo said it had signed the Charter on External Lighting, pledging to switch off the board from 11pm to 7am.

She added that the board has automatic environment-reactive sensors which will adjust light and audio output in response to changing light conditions and ambient sound.

Under the government’s charter, the signatories, including developers, shopping malls, hotels, banks and schools, are to switch off external non-static lights used for decoration, promotion or advertising by 11pm or midnight. Lights used for security and during festive seasons will be exempt.

According to the government, over 4,500 businesses and organisation across various sectors have supported the pledge.

“The pledge is not strict enough. We have asked for legislation for 10 years, but the government doesn’t try to do anything,” he said.

3D hearts and birthday cakes to light up Hong Kong sky as part of HK$13 million National Day fireworks display

Tam said he would like to see restrictions on the intensity and angle of light emitted from LED boards, the time the board can operate, and the size.

Civic Party lawmaker Tanya Chan claimed that very large LED boards also increased the temperature of the surrounding area.

In pictures: Hong Kong switches off the lights as cities and monuments worldwide go dark for Earth Hour

“If this becomes a trend, we may see more giant screens in residential areas next, which are not suitable,” she said.

While Chan welcomed the switching off of the board overnight to save energy, she echoed Tam’s call for having government legislation for restrictions on LED signboards in Hong Kong.