As reported on BBC online today, Highland Council have announced their plans to adopt street lighting trials in the Lochaber area (specifically at locations in Banavie, Strontian, Kinlochleven and Fort William) in order to reduce costs.
I have written this open letter to the Highland Council’s Lighting Manager Andrew Matheson:
I would like to congratulate you and Highland Council on your Lochaber street lighting trials. I appreciate that this was done primarily for economic reasons, but the benefits will be more than just financial. Excessive night lighting is responsible for:
- environmental degradation, through burning carbon unnecessarily
- impacts on wildlife
- impacts on human health
- nuisance to those that live nearby
- and spoiling our view of the night sky
I am a Glasgow-based astronomer, formerly manager of Glasgow Science Centre‘s planetarium, and formerly UK Co-ordinator for the International Year of Astronomy 2009, and I set up the UK’s first International Dark Sky Park in Galloway Forest Park in 2009, as well as the world’s first Dark Sky Island in Sark in the Channel Islands in 2011. I am working closely with a number of other parks and communities who are following suit, including Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, and Orkney Island Council.
These parks and communities have recognised the value in reducing night lighting, not just in tackling the issues listed above, but also in establishing the areas as dark sky destinations, thereby bringing money in to the local economies in the often-quiet winter months, when dark nights lend themselves to stargazing.
If I can offer any assistance in the future please don’t hesitate to contact me. In the meantime I would very much like to come and monitor (using a light meter and a camera) the improvement in the night sky in the places which are adopting either a dimming of lights, a reduction in number of lights, or part night lighting, and would appreciate it if you could tell me which communities are adopting which lighting controls, and when these will start.