Home > Dark Places, Light Pollution > Lochaber Street Lighting Trials

Lochaber Street Lighting Trials

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.

Street Lights will be turned off or dimmed during the trail (image by J. Ronald Lee)

I have written this open letter to the Highland Council’s Lighting Manager Andrew Matheson:

Dear Andrew,

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:

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.

Yours sincerely

Steve Owens

  1. July 19, 2011 at 19:30

    I took that photo – So pleased to see it used on a topic such as this. I live in a fairly remote area of New Hampshire, USA, and I still have a hard time with very basic astronomy photography. It’s enough to make me want to wander the streets unscrewing light bulbs.

  2. August 15, 2011 at 16:41

    I really don’t think that excessive lighting is needed in this day and age, and should be carefully considered before plans are commenced. Street lighting is always necessary, but in moderation, too much lighting will in deed spoil the area as well as discouraging wildlife to the area.

  3. August 23, 2011 at 14:22

    Hey if you are into astronomy, then excessive lighting is not what you need at all, the more lighting the more it spoils the view, not only that, it ruins the look of the environment.

  4. September 11, 2011 at 16:41

    I don’t believe that any one should ruin the landscape by installing lighting which absolutely ruins the surroundings, we should all be aware of our environment, and it is really important to do all that we can to preserve our surroundings, otherwise there will be nothing left to offer future generations. Excessive lighting is not the way forward.

  5. September 14, 2011 at 10:12

    Preservation of any space is really important. We have a lane near us which has been lit up like a football pitch and it does not look attractive, it not only is annoying, but it attracts teenagers who need a hangout during the dark nights.

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