Leeds and Yorkshire: The fading sky at night

STARRY NIGHT: Celestial sparkle over the Tan Hill Inn in North Yorkshire, made even more spectacular by the appearance of the Northern Lights.

STARRY NIGHT: Celestial sparkle over the Tan Hill Inn in North Yorkshire, made even more spectacular by the appearance of the Northern Lights.

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Light pollution is blurring the distinction between Yorkshire’s rural and urban areas with contamination often going unchecked, campaigners have warned.

For thousands of years people have been able to glance upwards and marvel at the stars and constellations, but there is a growing fear this is being eroded by the problem of light pollution from the expansion of towns and cities.

Remote locations in the region’s national parks are now considering taking steps to enable people to continue marvelling at the wonders of the skies. National park authority officials from both the Peak District and the North York Moors have already confirmed they are considering applying for Dark Sky status, which would offer key planning guidance to prevent light pollution from further development.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) is concerned contamination in the region is often going unchecked with some people, businesses, local authorities and others illuminating properties and streets without thinking about the environmental impact. Although Emma Marrington, rural policy campaigner with CPRE said some positive steps are being taken such as fitting dimmer switches or shutting street lights off at night - but says this is often being done to save money, than for environmental reasons.

She said: “Overall we still have a huge problem.

“When we saturate the night sky with unnecessary light, it damages the character of the countryside and blurs the distinction between town and country.”

She added: “A lot of children nowadays will never be able to see the Milky Way.”

Campaigners say as the golden glow of lighting seeps out from towns and cities it is encroaching on more and more rural areas.

A spokesman for the Local Government Association said: “Councils are well ahead of the game when it comes to tackling light pollution. Scores of local authorities up and down the country are trialling the switch-off and dimming of street lights late at night in quieter areas.

“These are decision taken locally by councils in consultation with local residents.”

The Government has signalled in its National Planning Policy Framework it wants to see good design encouraged to limit the impact of light pollution when planning decisions are made.