Ending ‘night blight’

MPs and Peers call for new legislation to save the UK’s dark skies

Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod

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Published: 14 December 2020

This Article was Written by: Katie Hill - My Green Pod

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An influential cross-party coalition of parliamentarians has called for urgent action from the government to cut damaging light pollution.
 
In its new report, Ten dark sky policies for the government, the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Dark Skies says that light pollution is growing exponentially, and new initiatives are needed to crack down on the crisis of ‘night blight’.

‘The case for controlling light pollution has scientific, educational, environmental, aesthetic and economic dimensions. It’s a deprivation for us all to never see a dark night sky.
 
‘The government should implement modest changes in the planning and regulatory system that could stem and indeed reverse the current trend. Such measures would certainly earn the gratitude of the next generation and would surely command broad support today.’

LORD MARTIN REES
Astronomer Royal

 

A Minister for the Dark Sky

The report highlights big gaps in the existing legal framework and planning permission process that regulate light pollution. It calls for new measures to protect the UK’s dark skies and night-time landscape.
 
Parliamentarians have said that in order to enforce rules and enhance oversight the government needs to set up a statutory Commission for Dark Skies and designate a new Minister for the Dark Sky.
 
They say the UK must join countries such as France and South Korea that have already legislated for the improved protection of dark skies, with approaches that focus on planning regulation, light curfews and metrics limiting light output.
 
A debate will be held in Parliament on 14 December to give MPs the chance to discuss government policy on dark skies and promote the proposals of the report.

‘Starry night skies are one of the most magical sights the countryside has to offer – but light pollution means many people don’t get to experience them. It’s high time that action is taken nationally and locally to stem the flow of unwanted light.
 
‘This would not only save money but would help to tackle the climate and nature emergencies, while limiting the impacts of light pollution on our health and wellbeing. Over nine in 10 people agree that gazing up at a sky full of stars has a positive impact on their wellbeing.
 
‘That’s why we are urging the government to pursue the 10 dark sky policies recommended by the APPG for Dark Skies. This includes introducing national legislation to reduce light pollution. Action now will mean more people than ever will be able to experience the wonder of a truly dark starry night sky in years to come.’

EMMA MARRINGTON
Dark skies campaigner at CPRE, the countryside charity

Can you see stars?

The most recent annual Star Count produced by CPRE found that in 2020 61% of people in the UK are in areas with severe light pollution – meaning that they could count fewer than 10 stars in the Orion constellation.

This represents a rise in the number of people experiencing severe light pollution from the previous year, when 57% of people taking part fell into that category.
 
Andrew Griffith MP, who founded of the parliamentary Dark Skies group and whose constituency of Arundel & South Downs contains one of the UK’s International Dark Sky Reserves, has previously called for special recognition of the UK’s dark skies.

He has suggested that the next draft of the National Planning Policy Framework be used to preserve and restore the ability of future generations to see the milky way on a dark night. 

‘We need to act now so that future generations may still be able to see the stars and the Milky Way – something that is already impossible in many parts of the country.”
 
‘New development, bad lighting and ‘horizon pollution’ are a growing threat and we want to see these proposals tabled in Parliament and adopted by the Government.’

ANDREW GRIFFITH MP
Founder of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Dark Skies

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