Dark Skies: National Planning Policy Review – Lighting

Light pollution is a serious problem for astronomers in the UK. It also represents a waste of energy and money to light the night sky.

The UK is one of the worst light polluted countries in Europe. Although there has been some progress in terms of better streetlight design and more awareness of the issue of light pollution thanks to the work of CfDS and others, the situation in many parts of the UK is still deteriorating.

A major problem is the weak control of new lighting through the planning system. There has never been clear national guidance (although there are some differences through devolved powers in some parts of the UK). Many councils do not even use their existing powers to ensure that developments are sensitively and efficiently lit.

An opportunity to redress this situation has come about through the Government’s current comprehensive review of the planning system. The Government Minister for planning has invited organisations and individuals to offer their suggestions to the Department on what priorities and policies might be adopted to produce a “shorter, more decentralised and less bureaucratic National Planning Policy Framework”.

This Framework will replace ALL previous guidance on planning – so it is vital for the future of astronomy in the UK that we get strong guidance in the new document to require all planning authorities to take into account lighting when determining planning applications – so as to encourage good design and control, energy efficiency and sky friendly installation – and hence combat the growing problem of light pollution.

A strong response from the astronomy community, and all those who care about the quality of the night sky, could help persuade the Government to put in place clear national guidance which planning authorities will then have to take into account.

Suggestions may be e-mailed, by 28 February 2011, to: planningframework@communities.gsi.gov.uk

I would be happy to provide more details on request.

(posted on behalf of)
James Abbott
BAA and CfDS member and district councillor

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Posted on 29 January, 2011, in Astronomy News, Observing News, Popular Science, Stargazing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Dark Skies: National Planning Policy Review – Lighting.

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