EAST Lothian Council was accused of throwing "good money after bad" if it agreed to move floodlights installed by a tennis club at a cost of nearly £10,000.

Dunbar Tennis Club, which has 249 members, installed its floodlights in 2019 but is currently unable to use them after the council issued an enforcement notice because they breached light pollution levels.

Neighbours told a meeting of the council’s planning committee today that the floodlights left rooms in their homes unusable, while one mum said that she could make a cup of tea in her kitchen at night without switching on the light as the glare from the tennis courts filled the room.

And they said that moving the lights would only move the problem to other parts of their homes and neighbours.

East Lothian Council applied for planning permission to move the floodlights so they covered the courts further away from the street, rather than the three closest to them.

Although the club received grant funding for the lights, including some from the local authority, the council said that it leased the site and fixtures to the club and would pay to move the lights and reinstate them at the new positions itself.

READ MORECouncillors to decide on bid to move tennis court floodlights

It confirmed the cost for the work was estimated at just under £10,000.

Neighbour Stewart Miller objected to the application for financial reasons.

He told the committee during this morning’s virtual meeting that it was the same "10 or 12 people" who use the courts at night and the council was “throwing good money after bad".

Mr Miller said: “You are proposing to spend council taxpayers' money on this. There should be much better uses for this money. Use it to fund nursery places, to fix potholes on the roads. Do not use it for just a small number of people.”

Other objectors requested a cut-off time for the floodlights of 10pm – a move backed by some councillors, pointing out that other sports facilities in the county shut down at that time.

Although the club said in its original planning application for the lights in 2019 that they would operate between 8am and 10pm, council officers granted approval to use them until 11pm in the evening as long as they were within the set lighting levels.

However, the maximum light impact on neighbours of five lux was not met and, when the club applied to have the level increased to 10 lux, that was rejected and planners ordered the lights to be turned off until a solution could be found.

'It made me uncomfortable'

Neighbour Esther Hughes said that the level of lux recorded in her home when the lights were on was 13.2.

And she pointed out that Winterfield Park, where the courts are based, was a popular "dark space" where people could sit at night and enjoy the stars.

Councillors were told that the moving of the lights would be tested to ensure no properties were impacted with more than five lux during the times they were used and they would not be allowed to switch on unless that was met.

Councillor Lyn Jardine, local ward member, is not a member of the planning committee but called in the application for councillors to consider.

At the meeting, she appealed to colleagues on the committee to consider the impact of the lighting on residents, saying that she had visited homes while they were in use.

She said: “I have sat in homes surrounding this site and felt as if I had car headlights beaming in through the window. It made me uncomfortable and I do not have to live with it.”

Calls for the times for the lights to be used to be reduced were rejected by Councillor Norman Hampshire, planning convenor and ward member, who said that the courts were used for tournaments and matches could run on later than planned.

However, he urged the tennis club and council officers to hold discussions about its relationship with neighbours after the committee was told that the trust had gone between them.

He said: “They need to try and rebuild this relationship because they have to live together.

"To try and keep the light use to a minimum is something they should be doing.”

The committee agreed to approve the moving of the floodlights and retain the 11pm cut-off time by eight votes in favour, with three abstentions from councillors Donna Collins, Jeremy Findlay and Neil Gilbert.

Councillors voting for the application were Norman Hampshire, Liz Allan, Andy Forrest, Colin McGinn, Shona McIntosh, Kenny McLeod, John McMillan and Colin Yorkston.