Hopes grow for Yorkshire Dales to get dark sky reserve status

Ribblehead Viaduct.

Hopes are high that the Yorkshire Dales National Park will join counterparts in Quebec, Australia and Namibia in being designated as an International Dark Sky Reserve before the end of the year.

Members of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority are expected to endorse an application to the International Dark Sky Association for the prestigious status, which it says would boost out-of-season tourism, help build on the park’s annual star-gazing festival, lead to enhanced wildlife habitats and health and wellbeing improvements.

Having the status, members will hear, would enable events and businesses to provide more opportunities to look up into the night sky and see the Milky Way, planets, shooting stars, and on rare occasions, the Northern Lights.

Hawes councillor Jill McMullon said: “This is fantastic news, especially given the crisis we have been in. Hopefully it will bring in more trade to the area and visitors as well. The timing of this couldn’t be better.”

A report to a full meeting of the authority states a proposed core area for the reserve, in which exceptionally low levels of light pollution are allowed, would surround Hawes, and include parts of Swaledale, Rawthey valley, Garsdale, Littondale and Wharfedale – some 30 per cent of the national park.

Typical night-time conditions must meet or exceed the criteria such as the Milky Way being readily visible to the unaided eye, there being no nearby artificial light sources priducing ing significant glare and any light domes present are dim, restricted in extent, and close to the horizon.

It states many of the application requirements are already in place as the authority has been working with local businesses and has run a dark skies festival for five years and dark sky meter readings over 20 months for 300 locations in the national park found more than 100 locations met the Dark Sky Reserve standard.

In addition, Cumbria, Lancashire and North Yorkshire county councils and Natural England have provided letters of support for the application, as well as from numerous parish councils.

The report states to reduce light pollution further a grant programme will be launched later this year to encourage lighting improvements for some existing properties.

Subject to members backing the application next week, the authority hopes to submit the application next month and a decision is expected to be announced by December.

Kathryn Beardmore, the authority’s director of park services, said: “To achieve this in 2020 would give us, our communities and businesses something to really celebrate in what is going to continue to be a very difficult year.”

1 Comment

  1. What about the disgusting floodlights at Hawes church destroying the night sky when people have ample daylight hours to look at such stone masonry if that’s what they like to do.also we must be very careful no plans ever come in to floodlight Ribblehead viaduct as has happened with the Royal border bridge at Berwick upon Tweed which is perilously close to the Northumberland national park along with kielder forest another English dark skies park.

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