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Technical Standards Part II: Can the Right to Public Lighting be Enforced?

Technical Standards Part II: Can the Right to Public Lighting be Enforced?

02.05.2013
Even technical standards applicable to public lighting are subject to a two-tier arrangement: they are merely qualified recommendations unless applicable law provides otherwise.
The technical standards applicable to public lighting include ČSN 13201 – 1–4 Road Lighting published by the Office for Technical Standards, Metrology and Testing. This deals with classes of lighting depending on geometric layout, use of space, influence of the environment and other parameters such as traffic intensity, character of navigation, visibility, crime risk and prevailing weather. The standards also include a guide for defining the relevant lighting area and other general recommendations, such as how to determine requirements for colour application, visibility management, lighting of neighbouring areas and the use of alternative supplementary lighting classes. The standards define (based on photometric requirements) classes of road lighting with regard to the sight requirements of road users and take into account the impact of lighting on the environment. 

Two Laws Applicable to Public Lighting

Although generally only recommendations, there are two regulations under which technical standards are binding: Governmental Order No. 361/2007 Coll. (the “Order”) and Decree of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications No. 104/1997 Coll. (the “Decree”).

The Order imposes requirements relative to work safety and its Section 45a (“Lighting of Outdoor Workplaces”) provides that artificial lighting of outdoor workplaces and connecting roads must correspond to the visibility demands of the relevant work as well as adequately ensuring health safety. The lighting must also comply with the limits and requirements imposed by the Czech technical standards for outdoor workplace lighting, which directly references ČSN 13201 – 1–4 Road Lighting in a footnote.

The Decree implements the Roads Act, and its Section 25 requires highways and roads to be lit in built-up municipal areas. Reference is made to the recommended Czech technical standards listed in Schedule No. 1, one of which was the standard superseded by ČSN 13201 – 1–4 Road Lighting, namely ČSN 36 0400 Public Lighting. But beware. This obligation does not apply to the two most common types of roads in municipalities: local and special-purpose roads.

With regard to the Constitutional Court's conclusions, the standard is binding only with regard to the lighting of outdoor workplaces, connecting roads and highways and roads in built-up municipal areas. Municipalities should follow the standards if their employees perform road work or if they own the lighting on the roads and highways and on the roads in built-up municipal areas.

Penalties

Although public lighting should meet the needs of the public, one’s right to public lighting is not guaranteed. Municipalities are in fact required to fulfil only those requirements that are specifically required by law. If a municipality switches off the road lighting in its built-up areas at night (in violation of Section 25 of Decree No. 104/1997 Coll.), it may be subject to a repeated penalty of up to CZK 100,000. That same penalty would also apply if the municipality is slow in remedying a situation where a road’s driving conditions are impaired because of poor public lighting.

A higher penalty awaits those who breach the work-safety requirements relating to outdoor workplace lighting. In such cases, a fine of up to CZK 1 million may be imposed.


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