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!

A good lighting guide covering the whole of Cumbria, the Yorkshire Dales National Park and Arnside and Silverdale National Landscape has been shortlisted for a Royal Town Planning Institute award. 

The guide, the Good Lighting Technical Advice Note, provides comprehensive lighting guidance to planners and planning applicants, and is also designed to help individuals, organisations and communities to make good lighting choices. Produced jointly by lighting consultancy Dark Source Lighting Design, landscape charity Friends of the Lake District and the planning authorities, the guidance was adopted at the end of 2023 by Cumberland, Lancaster City and Westmorland Furness Councils and the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Park Authorities. 

The guidance has already won two awards, the Platinum and Green Build Back Better Awards, and is now shortlisted for the prestigious Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) North West Regional Award. The award winners will be announced in Manchester at the RTPI Annual Dinner on the 27 June.

The illustrated guide shows what good lighting practice looks like, and can be used by anyone thinking of fitting a few outside lights, as well as architects and designers of larger projects installing lighting on buildings, parking areas, access roads and pathways.

Jack Ellerby, Dark Skies Officer for Cumbria at Friends of the Lake District, said: “Lighting is a complex science, with various national standards and guidance manuals full of calculations and technical lighting jargon. Busy planning officers have to juggle so much different information when assessing planning proposals, they were finding it really hard to understand how to distinguish good from bad lighting.

“Working all together we’re proud of the guidance we’ve produced to help reduce light pollution across Cumbria, and the wider north of England…. We titled it ‘Good Lighting’ guidance because it’s not just about preventing light pollution from damaging the night sky. Well-designed, sensitive lighting protects wildlife, allows people to sleep better at night, saves electricity and cuts energy bills, reduces our carbon footprint and preserves landscape tranquillity which is vital to peoples’ well-being and the whole visitor economy.”

The production of the Good Lighting guidance was managed by Friends of the Lake District, using their Dark Skies Cumbria Project expertise and worldwide, European and UK lighting research. Over 200 responses to an initial draft helped shape the document, contributors included Cumbrian architects, local authorities, astronomy, conservation and dark sky bodies, lighting engineers and manufacturers and the Institute for Lighting Professionals.

The Good Lighting Guidance comes in three versions, a single page of core good lighting principles; a 20 page summary for designing smaller lighting projects; and the full Technical Advice Note for lighting design associated with larger proposals.

Not all external lighting requires consent through the planning or building regulations, but we hope that the guidance will encourage more widespread best practice as understanding and confidence grows.

Read the Good Lighting Guidance: Light Policy and Guidance | Friends of the Lake District