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Light pollution illegal from tomorrow

[Wednesday 05 April 2006]

Light pollution becomes a statutory nuisance tomorrow, an arrival which is being welcomed by countryside lovers and astronomers who ran a national campaign to keep the night skies visible in rural areas.

But the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) wants the new law reinforced so that planners can insist that subdued lighting should be built into projected new developments before planning permission is granted.

Cassiopeia: Just one constellation drowned out by light pollution
Cassiopeia: Just one constellation drowned out by
light pollution

The CPRE initiated a major campaign - Night Blight! - in 2003 in conjunction with the British Astronomical Association and the Campaign for Dark Skies, fearing that the sight of a starlit night was being lost, not just to city dwellers, but to country people living near to developments like airports, motorways and even pub and hotels with big advertising signs.

That campaign comes to fruition tomorrow under Section 102 of the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act, 2005 - but campaigners are concerned that anti-light clauses have not been built into the planning laws.

"Thanks to the new law, some people will at last be able to take action if their lives are being blighted by selfish, wasteful use of light. But the only logical long-term solution is to design light pollution out of our lives," said Tom Oliver, CPRE's Head of Rural Policy.

"If planning policy is as clear as day that new development should not add to light pollution, we will stop obliterating star-filled skies at night with sky glow. That will be welcome to lovers of stars and the ancient darkness of the countryside."

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