Northumberland bids to create one of the world's biggest dark sky preserves

 

Plans have been laid to create one of the world's biggest dark sky preserves in England's most remote corner.

Managers at Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust and Northumberland National Park Authority hope to attract visitors to the wild Border country to appreciate the inky black of a moonless night.

Worsening light pollution means fewer Britons than ever have been able to enjoy the spectacular sight of countless stars.

The public will be consulted in Northumberland National Park on plans to protect 400 square miles of countryside from poor lighting which destroys the night vista.

Should residents agree, it will earn the designation from the International Dark Skies Association, based in Tucson, US.

Worldwide there are only 12 such preserves, and Northumberland would become the third biggest.

Those behind the project will talk to residents, parish councils and businesses to explain the proposals and gauge feedback before applying.

A spokesman said: "If successful, Kielder Water & Forest Park would become England's first dark sky park, while adjoining Northumberland National Park would be Europe's largest dark sky reserve - both committed to reducing light pollution and engaging the public about our dark skies."

Elisabeth Rowark, director of the Kielder Water & Development Trust, said: "Northumberland is a magical place both by night and day.

"Dark sky status would allow us to protect, cherish and promote our natural nightscapes.

"But gaining public support is the key."

She said 30,000 tourists have already visited Kielder's £450,000 observatory since it opened in 2008 and star camps also attract hundreds of observers every year.

She added: "It's crucial to understand that dark sky status does not mean turning lights off.

"Rather it is about working with people and Northumberland County Council to create better and less wasteful lighting and promoting the night sky as an asset for the region."

Anne Hutchinson, chair of Wark Parish Council in Northumberland, said: "People don't want to see light pollution, whether it is from poor street lights or inappropriate external lights.

"It's not in keeping with the character of the area.

"My son lives in London and every time he returns on a clear night he stands at the entrance to our farm to marvel at the stars.

"For him and many other people it's all part of the special quality of living in the Stonehaugh area."

John Wilson, who owns Whitelee Farm, near Carter Bar in the Northumberland National Park, said: "We've got three holiday cottages and such has been the growth in interest in stargazing that we now put binoculars and star charts in the rooms for guests.

"The National Park has taken light metre readings on the farm which confirms what we can see with our naked eye - that we have glorious dark skies which are a major draw to visitors.

"Getting dark sky status would be a great way of promoting tourism, as well as preserving something very special about our landscape."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Designer / Design Director

£38000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This B2B content marketing agen...

Austen Lloyd: Law Costs HOD - Southampton

£50000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: An outstanding new...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn