£50,000 scheme to pro­tect dark skies

Yorkshire Post - - NEWS - GRACE HAM­MOND NEWS COR­RE­SPON­DENT ■ Email: yp.news­desk@jpi­me­dia.co.uk ■ Twit­ter: @york­shire­post

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.”

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