Cumbria, the Dales and Lake District National Parks represent some of the best dark skies in England. Our star covered dark skies provide an amazing free-display, a wow factor for visitors and local communities but how can they be better protected?

An All Party Parliamentary Group for Dark Skies established in January this year – co-chaired by Andrew Griffith MP and the Astronomer Royal, Lord Martin Rees – has launched a consultation to collect information on the main threats and challenges facing dark sky preservation in the UK. It wants to identify the ‘most effective and actionable ways’ in which legislators and policy makers can seek to address these challenges. It will explore the environmental, economic, energy and health consequences of light pollution.

In its response to the consultation, the ‘Dark Skies Cumbria’ project is recommending national legislation to help tackle the growing problem of light pollution across Cumbria and elsewhere. This could be modelled on recent French law 2019 and place a duty on all public bodies to reduce light pollution year-on-year as part of their climate change emission reduction, biodiversity enhancement targets and health and well-being requirements.

Also recommended is a review of ‘permitted development’ rights and building regulations to bring artificial lighting equipment under a formal consenting process, backed up by dark skies compliant standards for lighting.

Film-maker Terry Abraham, Ambassador for the ‘Dark Skies Cumbria’ project said: “In my opinion Cumbria is the most beautiful corner of England. I often say the environment shapes us and so it shouldn't come as a surprise millions of people feel inspired, spiritually uplifted and more besides. I also often point out that the area is just as breathtaking at night as it is during the day. I'm backing the call to introduce new laws to reduce the impacts of light pollution within Cumbria and elsewhere. Our dark skies are too precious a resource to lose.”

Jack Ellerby, ‘Dark Skies Cumbria’ project officer, said: “Every day we are seeing poor lighting going up, collectively adding more and more light pollution and sky glow. Growing evidence of the impacts on wildlife, on people’s sleep and well-being and our ability to study the star system, mean we should be taking light pollution as seriously as other forms of pollution, like air, noise and water. Lighting can be designed and positioned to prevent damaging the night sky and a better approach to controlling pollution impacts is needed. This consultation gives us an opportunity to find some solutions.”

Read the ‘Dark Skies Cumbria’ project’s full response to the consultation

The consultation deadline is 27 September and is seeking proposals and evidence from a range of stakeholders with expertise and experience in the subject of dark sky preservation and light pollution. More information is available at the following link: www.appgdarkskies.co.uk/dark-skies-consultation

Image above by Ben Bush.