The most effective approach to reduce the detrimental effects of artificial lighting is to limit the growth of lighting by restricting unnecessary installations or removing them from areas already saturated with artificial lighting sources. This has the greatest potential to reduce light pollution and minimise ecological effects (Gaston et al. 2012). Turning off lights in areas commonly used by light-averse bats to forage, commute or roost during key times such as reproduction (Jones 2000) may be effective. Bats are faithful to maternity roosts due to the specific conditions they provide, and so conserving them is important for maintaining bat populations (Lewis 1995; Mann et al. 2002). However, some photosensitive bats may be disrupted even if areas were only lit for a short period of time (Boldogh et al. 2007), and switching off lighting may be challenged if it is perceived to jeopardise public safety (Lyytimäki and Rinne 2013).
Reducing the duration of illumination through part-night lighting (PNL) schemes could also help limit the adverse effects of light on nocturnal animals (Gaston et al. 2012). This has already been adopted by a number of local authorities in the UK, which switch off lights in specified areas between midnight and
05.30 to reduce CO2 emissions and save money (Lockwood 2011). Since April 2009, lights along sections of motorways have also been switched off between these hours (Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution 2009). While this may help to reduce light pollution, it is unlikely to have significant ecological benefits since the lights remain switched on in the early part of the night, when bats and other nocturnal species undertake key activities such as foraging and commuting (Gaston et al. 2012). Intelligent lighting schemes, such as the use of motion sensors, have already been implemented in Portugal and may have more ecological benefits. The lights remain switched off unless needed and so still provide all the perceived public safety benefits (Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution 2009). However, these fluctuations in lighting levels may also be damaging to bats (Longcore and Rich 2004).
It is also important to reduce the trespass of artificial lighting to minimise the impact on bats. Newer technologies such as LEDs produce more directional light (Gaston et al. 2012), preventing the horizontal or upward emissions which contribute most to light pollution (Falchi et al. 2011). Effective luminaire design, installation of shielding fixtures and correct column height can also help focus light and avoid wasteful emissions (Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution 2009). In Lombardia, Italy, for example, 75 % of light pollution was due to poorly designed luminaires; the other 25 % was unavoidable reflection from road surfaces (Falchi 2011). Vegetation canopies such as hedgerows can also help decrease light trespass, which is crucial for many bat species that use linear features as commuting routes (Rydell 1992; Fure 2006). Diminishing trespass could create dark refuges, providing corridors for bats to forage in fragmented habitats (Longcore and Rich 2004; Stone et al. 2012; Gaston et al. 2012).
Light intensity has a significant effect on bat activity (Stone et al. 2012) and delays roost emergence (Downs et al. 2003). If bats delay foraging, they risk missing the peak abundance in insects that occurs shortly after dusk, so may not meet their energy requirements, which in turn could reduce fitness (Jones and Rydell 1994; Stone et al. 2012). In addition to implementing PNL, many local authorities are also dimming lights in specified areas (Gaston et al. 2012). This relies on local authorities already having lights such as LEDs that have the necessary centralised management system (International Energy Agency 2006). These schemes are more environmentally friendly and cost-effective (Gaston et al. 2012). However, dimming lights may not be beneficial to all bat species; Daubenton's bats Myotis daubentonii, for instance, only emerge from their roosts at very low light levels (less than 1 lux) (Fure 2006) and R. hipposideros and Myotis spp. avoid commuting routes illuminated to 3.6 lux (Stone et al. 2012). Since illumination levels of street lights are usually between 10 and 60 lux (Gaston et al. 2012), it may not be feasible to dim lighting to such low intensities without compromising public perceptions of safety (Stone et al. 2012; Lyytimäki and Rinne 2013).