We spoke with a parish council about dark skies this month. Listening well to conversations and stories can reveal much richer meaning and common values than ‘policy words’! 

The Parish Council is having to take on responsibility for the road lighting in their parish owned by the District Council. Budget cutting means local authorities are transferring responsibility and costs down to town and parish councils. They also had to review the lights as some were on electricity poles, and Electricity North West because of health and safety concerns, does not want any other equipment sharing its poles. 

There were 21 road lights and they looked at each in turn and agreed which ones weren’t needed and would be taken down, or the bulbs not replaced when they broke. Only 11 would remain after 1 April 2022. The lights had built up over the last 40-50 years, some for the quarry lorries when the quarry was working, others from individual ad-hoc requests. 

When the parish council spoke with residents living next to lights, when dark skies were mentioned they were happy for lights not to be kept on. The lights they kept were for school children waiting at the bus stop and for security in the village car park (5 of the 11 lights here). Now that they know more about dark skies (the lights were reviewed before Johanna’s talk to the WI), the parish council regrets that the lights can’t be time limited to only when the light is needed and not on all night. They are open to looking at this with the Dark Skies Project community lighting reduction pilot work we are planning. 

80-90% of the light pollution stems most likely from businesses, especially some of the larger hotels. The parish councillor made a very pertinent point: ‘Visitors wouldn’t decide not to come to stay at a hotel because it didn’t have enough lights, but many visitors would be attracted by being able to see fantastic views of starry skies.’