Campaign to Protect Rural England - Somerset

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Dark skies in Somerset


Darkness at night is one of the things that defines the countryside and makes it so different from towns and cities. But that darkness is disappearing, and with it our view of the stars and planets. Nationally, CPRE has campaigned for many years for protection for our dark skies following survey work which showed that light pollution in the South West increased by 17% between 1993 and 2000.

The wasteful, careless use of outdoor lights is blighting our night sky, stopping us from being able to see the stars. The problem isn’t due to all lighting, just lights that waste energy by beaming some or all of their light upwards. This causes light pollution, which can be seen as a dirty orange glow lighting up the night sky for miles outside towns and cities

In the absence of light pollution, you can see thousands of stars on a clear, dark night and our own galaxy, the Milky Way, splashed across the heavens. But where there is light pollution, you can see only a couple of dozen of the very brightest stars. Light pollution wastes electricity and energy, and contributes to air pollution and climate change. CPRE is particularly concerned because darkness at night and starry skies are two of the things that – until very recently – have defined the countryside and made it so different from towns and cities. That quality needs to be maintained and restored.

However, here in Somerset it seems the tide might be turning....... In 2011, Exmoor National Park was designated as an International Dark Sky Reserve – the first of its kind in Europe. At the same time, Somerset County Council began a trial project to reduce street lighting after midnight in some areas and even to remove some street lights altogether. Potentially, this could save more than £130,000 over three years and would, of course, reduce carbon emissions.  This should also mean that people in rural Somerset will now have a better chance of experiencing dark skies without interference from unnecessary light pollution.We can all do our bit to make light pollution less of a problem. 

Our ViewDownload our “Night Blight!”  leaflet to see practical, realistic actions which everyone can take to tackle this problem.   Few things can be as awe inspiring as a sky full of stars – let’s all do our bit to make sure we have the best opportunity to experience this priceless show occurring nightly above our heads

external small  Use our interactive maps of light pollution and dark skies in your area



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Somerset patchwork landscape