£50,000 scheme to protect dark skies
A PIONEERING grant scheme could be created to help protect the treasured night-time landscape for star-gazers within the North York Moors National Park.
Preserving access to its dark skies has long been a priority for the North York Moors National Park Authority, whose members will be asked in coming days to back a new £50,000 initiative.
The scheme, with up to £2,500 allocated for individual premises, would be focused initially on protecting and expanding those dark areas which have already been identified, as well as going on to improve others in time.
“The National Park is one of the best places in the country to see stars because of the low light pollution levels and clear horizons,” said senior officer Mike Hawtin.
“From a town or city you’ll be lucky to spot more than a handful of stars but the further away you get from street lights, the better the view. In the darkest areas of the park you can see up to 2,000 stars at any one time.
“Like any of our special landscapes, we need to understand potential threats to our dark skies and look at ways of protecting them wherever possible.”
The park authority aims to use funding provided as a result of planning agreements made in connection with the Woodsmith potash mine venture at Whitby.
“When we think about preserving dark skies our initial consideration is tranquillity and the ability to see stars at night,” added Mr Hawtin. “In reality the benefits of reducing light pollution are much wider and include tourism, education, wildlife habitats, human health and in reducing carbon emissions from energy waste.”
Mr Hawtin warned there were increasing concerns about rural security which can result in individuals and businesses using more light rather than less, adding that too much open air light can cause problems.
“Premises with excessive lighting can have a significant impact on tranquillity by causing sky glow which impacts on the ability to see stars at night.”