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Night Blight: Keeping Our Skies Dark

light map south east

CPRE launched its Night Blight campaign in May 2003 because our view of the night sky is increasingly under threat of being blotted out by the orange glow from street light and security lights. In 2007 we teamed up with the The British Astronomical Association's Campaign for Dark Skies to increase awareness of this problem and to give practical guidance on how to reduce the problem.

The Issues

Darkness ar night is one of the things that defines the coutnryside and makes it so different from towns and cities. The main problems with careless lighting are:

  • Between 1993 and 2000, light pollution had increased 24 nationally
  • Light pollution significantly reduces our enjoyment of the stars; in a true dark sky one can see 66 stars within the constellation of Orion with the naked eye; in towns this reduces to 8 or less
  • Light pollution is a waste of energy; lights are intended to light up the area below them, not above!
  • It intrudes into the habitats of birds and animals, confusing their natural patters.
  • Security flood lights that suddenly light up can cause loss of night vision to those in the vicinity, and has caused accidents.
  • Badly directed lights can ruin the sleep of those who live nearby.

Our Position

We are not advocating the removal of lights in the countryside. After all, they are often needed to carry out essential activities. What we are against is their careless positioning and wasteful use of energy.

  • We need effective national and local policies to combat light pollution - although light pollution was deemed a statutory nuisance in 2005 as part of the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act, not all forms of lighting ar included.
  • In small towns and those villages where lighting is provided, the local council should adopt lighting schemes which reduce light pollution.
  • Householders and others who use outdoor lighting should use the minimum wattage necessary and should angle lights downwards.

What We Are Doing

Among our recent and current activities that CPRE and CPRE Hampshire have been involved with are:

  • Using satellite data to compile a series of maps showing the increase in light pollution over the country - see comparison map for the South East (PDF - opens in new window)
  • Have worked with the Dark Skies Campaign promoting 'star counts' during specified weeks; participants were invited to count the stars within the rectangle of the constellation Orion's 'shoulders' and 'feet'.
  • Campaigned vigorously and successfully against the Southampton laser project, which would have emitted a laser beam of light over a wide area of South Hampshire.
  • Actively encourage CPRE members to complain about 'statutory nuisance' to the local council where lighting is causing unecessary pollution.

Case Studies

  • Hampshire County Council is one local authority that is taking a lead by introducing highly reflective road bollards to replace the more traditional illuminated versions. They have also updated street lighting so lanterns use shielding to avoid light spilling onto adjacent properties.
  • Southampton saw the light (or rather no light!): the successful campaign to stop the Laser Gateway - see Lasers over Southampton (And much of South Hampshire)

Reducing Light Pollution Near You

get involved

From time to time we look for volunteers to help put together a programme of activities to raise awareness of light pollution. Please contact the Campaign Management Group if you are interested in being involved with this campaign.

Other things you can do personally to help reduce light pollution:

  • Make sure that your own outdoor lights are not wasteful
  • Identify sites where light pollution is unreasonable
  • Make representations to your local council
  • Ask retailers to promote more environment-friendly lighting
  • Take advantage of the new legislation to encourage enforcement.

Further Reading

  • Dark Skies in 2009 - an article on our initiative in the International Year of Astronomy.
  • How Many Stars Did you Count? - individuals were invited to counts the stars within the rectangle of the constellation Orion's 'shoulders' and 'feet' for one night in late 2006/early 2007.
  • Guidance for the Reduction of Light Pollution (PDF - opens in new window)- an 8 page guide from the Campaign for Dark Skies for householders, councils and owners of different premises.

This page last updated 4th February 2011.

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