Dark Skies Cumbria

Saving Our Night Skies

Cumbria's dark skies allow us to see the natural wonder of the stars, but are also critical for the health wildlife and our own natural well-being. Sadly light pollution in Cumbria is increasing each year, threatening to obscure our view of the stars and blinding and confusing animals so they can’t feed or find a mate. We need urgent action now to stop light pollution. Stargazers, photographers, wildlife lovers and local communities… please help.

     

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The Lake District and Cumbria offers some of the most spectacular and precious skyscapes in England and we want you to join us on an interstellar adventure. Download our Dark Sky Discovery Pack and get started today!

Light polluting footway lights along Cliff Terrace on Low Fellside, Kendal have been replaced with the town’s first Dark Skies and wildlife-friendly heritage-style lights. 

The original Victorian cast iron lamp posts and lanterns were removed in the 1960-70s and subsequent repairs left a mis-match of fittings. The residents along the Terrace suffered from unwanted light shining into their houses and the extent of the light pollution cast much wider into the night sky. Members of the local Eddington Astronomical Society had raised concerns about the reducing ability to see star constellations from Kendal Castle public open space where they hold events for budding amateur star gazers. 

Cumbria County Council’s lighting team were able to assist residents in sourcing the new Heritage lights which use modern energy efficient, LED technology to direct the light beam downwards along the length of path and with a warmer colour to protect wildlife and reduce glare. The new lights are also mounted on restored original cast iron lamp posts which were reintroduced into the local street scene to reclaim the original character of the Terrace.(1)(2) 

The new lights shone for the first time on Friday 18 June, casting no light pollution up into the night sky, less prominent looking across from the Castle and helping reduce electricity consumption by over 50%. 

Pictured: Cliff Terrace before. Credit: Antony Paddle

Pictured: Cliff Terrace after. Credit: Antony Paddle


Pictured: Cliff Terrace after.

Jack Ellerby, Dark Skies Cumbria Project Officer at Friends of the Lake District, said: 

“Incrementally light pollution has crept up on us through 1000s of individual decisions. Although only three replacement lights, this represents a step in the right direction to reduce the sky glow pollution emitted from Kendal and Oxenholme. By working together we can make an instant positive improvement - reducing light pollution and energy bills, protecting the night sky and sensitive wildlife."

Antony Paddle, Cliff Terrace resident, said: 

“Jack Ellerby approached us in January and asked if we would like some better lights for the Terrace as a testbed for dark-sky-friendly street lighting. From the start, the residents were very enthusiastic to support the Dark Skies Cumbria Project and we helped along the way. 

“Thanks to Jack, our Town and County Councillors and the County’s lighting team, we now have lights that are entirely appropriate for a lovely early Victorian terrace in a Conservation Area, fitted with modern low-energy LED arrays that put light only where we need it. 

“Apart from the benefits to nocturnal animals, our view of the night sky and the climate, we no longer have bright light shining up into our windows at night. As a wildlife and astronomy enthusiast, I am delighted.” 

Local County Councillor, Peter Thornton, helped and backed the idea, saying: 

“I’d like to thank Jack Ellerby and the Cliff Terrace residents for prompting us to undertake this renovation and I’m really pleased that we’ve been able help out with a scheme to fit into the Dark Skies Project.”

Jack Ellerby said: 

“We’re expecting the Lighting Consultant’s whole Town lighting audit and report by the end of June showing us where the worst sources of light pollution are in the Project’s pilot communities.(3) We will then work positively with property owners, businesses and public space managers to help replace poor quality lights, and restore our Dark Skies for everyone to enjoy and experience. We hope other communities across Cumbria and wider afield will learn from this work and take action themselves.” 

For more information about Friends of the Lake District’s Dark Skies Cumbria Project, visit the website at: www.darkskiescumbria.org.uk


(1). The footway is an unadopted highway and for further technical information about the new Heritage Lights supplied by Thorn Lighting Ltd, please contact: Craig Lensky, Key Account Manager, Outdoor Lighting - [email protected]  or Ian Harker, Cumbria County Council’s Lighting Manager [email protected] 

(2). A recent LightAware UK report recommended the use of warmer colour temperature LEDs (Kelvins) for external street lighting to protect both wildlife and light sensitive people. Cliff Terrace’s new lights are set at 2,200 Kelvins addressing the Report’s recommendations. See:

https://lightaware.org/2021/02/a-bright-idea-adverse-health-social-and-environmental-impacts-associated-with-led-street-lighting/

(3). The three pilot communities working with the Dark Skies Cumbria Project are: Kendal-Oxenholme in South Lakeland, Patterdale Parish in Eden District and Buttermere, Lorton and Loweswater in Allerdale. The Lighting Audit and Action Plan (LAAP) Reports are being produced by Manchester-based Cundall Light4 Lighting Consultants with funding provided by Friends of the Lake District, Kendal Civic Society and Kendal Town Council.