1 o’clock in the morning passed. Victoria Decousus goes to the security valves of the illuminated displays of shops and cuts the power, bringing darkness to the streets.
The president of the Cercle de PAN, an association for the defense of the environment and animals, is accustomed to this type of action against light pollution: at the beginning of February, twenty-one Ondaine signs had been “unplugged”, to not having respected the obligation to extinguish their lights between one and six o’clock in the morning.
During this night from Friday to Saturday, Victoria Decousus reiterates the operation in Monistrol-sur-Loire, Saint-Didier-en-Velay, Beauzac and their surroundings. Other members of the association do the same in Saint-Étienne and Lyon. Eighty businesses in total are pinned, including twenty-seven in Haute-Loire. The initiative is renewed every month.
“There are always stores that do not comply with the regulations. Light pollution, in addition to the waste of energy caused, has an environmental impact. On plants, for example, which are permanently exposed to a source of light, their development is disturbed by the break in the day-night cycle,” says Victoria Decousus.
Negligence and fear of burglaries
For her, it is a mixture of negligence, fear of burglaries and, sometimes, ill will that explains the bad habit taken by traders.
President of 100% Saint-Did ‘, the association of merchants of Saint-Didier-en-Velay and vice-president of the Federation of associations of merchants of Haute-Loire, Alain Massardier disputes: “These are only oversights. In Monistrol-sur-Loire, Le Panier paysan no longer cuts its lighting since a burglary. “It’s true that we should review that,” concedes its manager Pascal Boyer, who declares himself “affected” by the environmental consequences of this practice – he is also an organic farmer.
“Encourage” rather than prohibit
According to the Environmental Code, the control of light pollution is devolved to the mayors. “It is difficult to prohibit a practice, it is rather necessary to encourage good behavior. For an elected official, this subject is delicate because we are entering into the management of a private company, ”explains Dominique Freyssenet, mayor of Sainte-Sigolène and vice-president delegate for the economy of the community of municipalities of the Marches du Velay-Rochebaron. .
“At the intermunicipal level, this is a problem that is very little mentioned by elected officials, he continues. I think that the light pollution of shops is much less important than in the past, given the financial cost that this represents for them. I myself worked in a bank branch, where they left all the lamps on at night, to show that it was clean and tidy. »
A theme little defended by local elected officials, whom Victoria Decousus considers “lax” on this subject.