YORK'S shiny new Millennium Bridge may have opened in a blaze of publicity this week, but residents living nearby think its glaring night-time lights are not such a bright idea.

Anne Tracy, a teacher at All Saints School, who lives in Finsbury Avenue near the new bridge across the Ouse, says the lights are a nuisance.

"The new Millennium Bridge looks beautiful. However, at night it is a different story," she said.

"The whole area is now flooded by enormously powerful lights, far more appropriate to a football stadium than to the peaceful and starry riverbank that was once here.

"Apart from the sheer ugliness of the lighting, and the fact that light pollution now blots out the stars and planets, I would like to know how much it costs to pour so much electric light into the empty fields and skies around this pedestrian bridge.

"I am sad that a supposedly environmentally-friendly project could come with such on-going damage to the planet."

Anne Crombie, another resident who lives near the bridge, agreed that the lights were very bright and distracting at night time.

She said: "I feel sorry for people who can see the lights through their house windows. It would be very annoying and probably keep them awake.

"The bridge is wonderful, but you would need black-out curtains to keep this light out at night time."

A City of York council spokesperson said: "The lighting on the Millennium Bridge was considered as part of the planning process and this will have looked at a balance between ensuring that there isn't significant lighting pollution for local residents and the need to ensure that the bridge is lit to ensure it can be used safely.

"We haven't received any complaints at the council on lighting pollution.

"However if local residents do have concerns, they should contact the planning office."

Similar complaints were made in 1998 when floodlighting at the new McArthur Glen Designer Outlet, in Naburn, fitted lights that residents claimed were so bright that wildlife thought daylight never ended.

Residents complained that their homes were bathed in constant light, and birds were confused into singing through the night. In the same year, city residents reported strange lights in York's night sky.

They claimed beams had been sighted reflecting off clouds and criss-crossing like lasers.

It was discovered that the phenomenon was caused by strong floodlights installed as part of the Christmas festivities at the Monks Cross shopping complex.

Updated: 10:26 Friday, April 13, 2001