LED lighting is being deployed around the UK’s first Dark Sky Park to solve the problem of light pollution.
The news is much welcomed and we have seen from our work in the external lighting field that LED technology is the most flexible and cost-effective solution.
A 580 square-mile patch of Northumberland has been given protected Dark Sky Park status, the largest area in Europe, and includes Northumberland national park and the adjoining Kielder water and forest park.
Northumberland County Council supported the bid for Dark Sky status and, with Northumberland National Park Authority, has endorsed the Lighting Management Plan.
A £25 million “Invest to Save” project starts in the new year to replace up to 16,000 street lighting columns and replace existing sodium lanterns with eco-friendly and fully controlled dimmable LED units, while maintaining public safety. This will significantly reduce light pollution, slash energy and maintenance costs and cut carbon emissions.
The award is the culmination of a 24-month process as councils, residents and local businesses audited outside lighting, took more than 300 light-meter measurements and sought solutions to reduce light pollution.
As LED lighting is proven to reduce electricity consumption, there will be substantial reductions in energy bills and the Dark Sky status will boost the local economy while protecting night environments for wildlife. The park should prove an irresistible draw for amateur astronomers and astro-tourists alike.
Homes and businesses in the new zone will be given grants to install special outdoor lighting to cut light pollution and new build properties will be subject to strict light rules.
The park was awarded gold-tier status by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) in the US, the highest rating given for stargazing conditions and is a visible badge of honour for the profound darkness that makes the area ideal for star-gazing.
Elisabeth Rowark, Chair of the Northumberland Dark Skies Working Group and Director of the Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust, was quoted in the announcement this week: “We have worked so hard together to reach this tremendous day for everyone committed to securing protection for England’s largest area of starry skies.
“We have a wonderful story to tell in terms of our public astronomy outreach and the success of the Kielder Observatory. But this designation as Europe’s largest Dark Sky Park will be a springboard allowing us to do even more. We do not want to turn off the lights, but rather encourage better lighting using the latest technology.
“This is the start of a new chapter for Northumberland where quite literally the sky is the limit.”
Talk to us about your lighting needs and get expert advice by calling us on 0845 123 5464.