UK parliamentary group calls for dark sky legislation
The APPG for Dark Skies has called on the government to implement new legislation to control and mitigate light pollution across the UK.
An all-parliamentary group that's seeking to protect the UK's dark skies has called on the government to act urgently to cut light pollution and protect the night skies above Britain.
The demand follows a call in August 2020 by the group, the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Dark Skies, seeking proposals on the subject of light pollution and night-sky preservation.
Earlier in 2020 a report said 61% of people in the UK live under 'severe' light pollution.
Light pollution is the term given to the detrimental effect of artificial lighting on our view of the night sky, as astronomical phenomena such as stars, constellations, planets and the Milky Way become more difficult to see under the glare of light from towns and cities.
Bodies such as the International Dark Sky Association and the UK-focussed Dark Sky Discovery, for example, help identify and preserve regions of low light pollution where views of the night sky are protected.
This latest report from the APPG for Dark Skies says there are “big gaps” in the current legal framework and planning permission processes in the UK in terms of regulating light pollution.
It calls for new legislation to protect the darkness of the night sky over the UK, including the creation of a statutory Commission for Dark Skies to "punish non compliance" and to empower local authorities to enforce regulations.
It also says there should be standardised brightness and colour temperature of lighting, including legal limits to the amount of blue light emitted by a luminaire.
The report says all lighting units should be sold and distributed with instructions for "the control of obtrusive light", and suggests the implementation of 'Dark Sky Hours' in which some lighting could be dimmed or turned off.
The group have also called for the appointment of a designated Minister for Dark Skies and a Dark Sky Towns & Cities initiative to create voluntary 'Dark Sky Town/City' classifications across the UK.
Click here for the full APPG for Dark Skies policy plan.
The APPG for Dark Skies includes members from the Conservative Party, Labour and the Liberal Democrats, as well as representatives from the House of Lords. Its aim is to advocate for the preservation of dark skies in the UK Parliament.
The group was founded in January 2020 by co-chairs Andrew Griffith, Conservative MP for Arundel and South Downs, and Astronomer Royal Lord Martin Rees.
Its purpose is to gather information on the key threats to dark-sky preservation in the UK and identify solutions, such as changes to planning policy or the adoption of dark-sky friendly lighting.
As well as focussing on the effects of light pollution on astronomy and stargazing, the consultation process also investigated the environmental, economic, energy and health consequences of light pollution.
For more information visit the APPG for Dark Skies website.
Iain Todd is BBC Sky at Night Magazine's Content Editor. He fell in love with the night sky when he caught his first glimpse of Orion, aged 10.