CPRE believes that darkness at night is one of the key characteristics of rural areas and it represents a major difference between what is rural and what is urban.
Light doesn’t respect boundaries; it can spread for miles from the source and blurs the distinction between town and country. Light spilling up into the night sky is also a waste of energy and money - local authorities were estimated to spend £616 million on street lighting in 2013-141 - and the lights can account for between 15-30% of a council’s carbon emissions.
We’re not saying there should be no artificial light at all, but it should be the right type of lighting and only used where and when it is needed. We want to see more done to ensure that our communities are lit in a responsible way, with local authorities considering how they can improve their approach to street lighting, ensuring that new developments are lit appropriately and that areas of existing dark skies are protected.
CPRE and dark skies
CPRE has long been a leading voice in the campaign against light pollution. We’re concerned that, even in the depths of the countryside, genuine dark starry nights are becoming harder to find. Security lights, floodlights and streetlights all break into the darkness and create a veil of light across the night sky. While CPRE agrees that some of this light is necessary much of it is wasting energy, spilling into homes disrupting people’s sleep and affecting the behaviour of wildlife. The quality of our lives and natural world is being diminished by light pollution.
Many councils are looking into reducing street lighting in a bid to save money and energy, with the reduction in light pollution often coincidental. We know that many people are cautious when they first hear about plans to dim or switch off lights, fearing that there will be an increase in local crime. Indeed, community engagement is vital when local authorities are considering part-night lighting and switching off street lighting. Yet recently published evidence has shown that there is not a clear link between reduced lighting and crime levels.
We want to see:
- National government commit to monitoring England’s dark skies at regular periods, to establish change over time and ensure that national and local policies can be improved as needed.
- Local councils developing policies to control light pollution in their local plans and identifying existing dark areas that need protecting. We’d also like to see more councils setting targets for replacing street and road lighting with less light polluting types, such as full cut off flat glass lamps.
- Households to consider whether outdoor security lighting is necessary and the potential impact of poorly directed lighting on nearby neighbours.
- More areas of rural England working towards Dark Sky Place status, following in the footsteps of Exmoor and Northumberland National Parks, designated for their dark skies in 2011 and 2013 respectively.
1Department for Communities and Local Government ‘Local authority revenue expenditure and financing England: 2013 to 2014 budget’
Our view on local authorities switching off street lights.
An overview of CPRE's work on light pollution.
Our view of the stars - a source of infinite amazement for scientists, casual observers and the millions of us that seek out rural places to rest and recuperate - is obscured by light pollution.
We have a long record of successes that demonstrate how vital CPRE’s role is in the campaign against light pollution