First community in Wales designated International Dark Sky Place
A Powys community has become the first in Wales to be designated as an International Dark Sky Place following installation of intelligent street lighting.
Presteigne and Norton’s achievement comes as a unique collaboration between the local community, Presteigne and Norton Town Council, Powys County Council and Dark Source Lighting Design Studio, to pursue a dark sky ambition through tackling light pollution.
Mayor of Presteigne and Norton Town Council and Powys County Council local member, Cllr Beverley Baynham said: “The whole community in Presteigne and Norton are delighted to learn that our six-year campaign to become a dark sky community has been successful.”
Cllr Baynham added: “It has taken a lot of collaboration and commitment to reach this milestone, but I am sure all the hard work has been worth it, and the community are already seeing the benefits.
“We now have intelligent lighting that has seen all our streetlights turned back on but with bulbs that are compliant with Dark Skies. This will benefit both residents living in the community and the environment.
“Thank you to everyone who has made this possible.”
The local community and project group worked hard to ensure the area met the high standard of criteria needed for a designated International Dark Sky Place.
Presteigne and Norton Dark Skies Community Leader Leigh-Harling Bowen said: “We are delighted by the outcome of Presteigne’s and Norton’s application to Dark Sky International to become a dark sky community. Without the dedicated and coordinated support of both Presteigne and Norton Town Council and Powys County Council, it would never have happened.
“The Community has worked tenaciously to highlight the benefits of becoming a dark sky community, including an investment in the use of efficient, low energy ‘dark skies’ streetlights that have reduced our impact on the environment. This has resulted in a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, along with a beneficial effect on wildlife, especially night flying insects, birds and bats. The consequential reduction in light pollution has also enabled us to see the glory of the night sky clearly, a legacy that our children and grandchildren will continue to enjoy!”
A total of 380 lighting columns in the area were refurbished with 2200K LED luminaires with a large majority employing full cut-off beam. 40% of the lights have been programmed to switch off while the remaining 60% have been pre-set to half their intensity after midnight. In employing such curfew and dimming profiles, light intensity and energy usage are significantly reduced while the longevity of the luminaires is extended.
The project has reduced the area’s annual CO2 emissions by 4.5 tonnes, and this has been facilitated by the extension of the scheme into a nearby industrial estate under the jurisdiction of the Welsh Government so that the lighting character is consistent across the town.
Cllr Jackie Charlton, Powys County Council’s Cabinet Member for a Greener Powys said: “The council’s highways team have been working hard throughout the county to make improvements and efficiencies to our streetlighting.
“By working with local communities and wildlife groups, we are making great progress in reducing both light pollution and carbon emissions. We are also making sure that lights don’t adversely affect bat routes or otter feeding areas and specifically use a colour temperature of 2200K for our lanterns to ensure they are nature friendly and dark sky compliant.
“We are delighted that we have been able to help Presteigne and Norton achieve dark sky community status: a first in Wales and England, and hope that other local communities within Powys will follow suit and champion dark skies in the future.”
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