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Light Pollution: something you can do!


umadog
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Organisations and individuals (that means you) have been invited to offer their suggestions on the new "National Planning Policy Framework". That's this thing: www.communities.gov.uk/documents/planningandbuilding/pdf/1803122.pdf

This Framework informs planning of infrastructure and will replace all current guidance. It places an emphasis on a localist approach and improving sustainability in the light of climate change. It's vital that this important document contains strong guidance to combat light pollution. Our cause should appeal to the nature of the document.

You can e-mail suggestions (deadline 28th of February 2011) to this address: planningframework@communities.gsi.gov.uk

It's obviously best if we don't all send identical letters. Nonetheless, I know that not everyone wants to compose a letter so I plan on writing one next week and posting here what I have sent. I encourage others to do likewise. That way the community will have something to work with.

It's our responsibility to protect the night sky and here is something simple which everyone can do. If we don't have a voice, we won't be heard--get writing!

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Morning Umadog.

I will post something. I work for local goverment and cannot understand why our Council owned buildings are blazing the night away. These buildings make up a huge percentage of the total number of buildings in our city centres.

Surely the government would welcome the savings incurred by not keeping office plants, water coolers and empty carparks out of the dark.

This of course is not to mention the benefits to our environment, of which the government is also oh so keen.

Edited by Ewok
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Well, the iron was hot so I struck. Who's next?

Here's what I sent: www.physiol.ox.ac.uk/~raac/planningFramework.rtf

This is an RTF, which everyone is free to edit.

I converted to PDF and e-mailed it. I strongly advise against sending a Word document: there are compatibility issues and they can get filtered out by spam software. Either convert to PDF or insert it in-line into your e-mail body.

Again, we have to write if there's a chance it will make a difference. It is unacceptable for any of us to sit around doing nothing whilst the night sky gets blotted out one star at a time.

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E-mail sent. I didn't go into an overlong discourse- as I'm sure the've heard all the arguments before. Just enough to point out it would be a good opportunity to get anti Light Pollution measures in the Forward Planning Policy now- rather than later.

Edited by laser_jock99
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Really good to see people are keen on this. Keep up the good work!

I know from somebody familiar with this stuff, that this new Planning Policy Regime will be crucial for years to come in steering decision-making on lighting. Therefore it's very important for us to get it right at the outset. Now is the time to make a difference on this one. If you're only going to write one letter on LP this year, make sure it's this one!

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Here is why the new regulations matter for us:

The importance of the new national planning regime is that currently there is no overarching requirement to consider lighting and no clear guidelines for developers and councils to ensure best practice. By comparison there is very clear national guidance for noise (PPG 24).

The new national guidance will influence ALL development (development is defined in law - ie it is not putting up a low fence or a patio, but it is development to build a house, factory, etc).

So the vital thing about the new national guidance is that at the point when applications are decided, if there is a clear requirement to look at lighting then councils will have to do it - and it will cover most types of new buildings and many types of changes to existing buildings.

There is also a need to tidy up planning law on lighting that is put up on its own (ie generally not as part of a wider development). Currently, some lights on poles are classed as development needing planning permission (ie sports floodlighting), some not (poles less than 4m high). Lights on listed buildings need consent (which could be just a porch light), yet floodlighting a listed building may not need consent at all ie its a mess.

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Hi,

Been onto the CDFS site and got my local liason officers name. Have asked for him to contact me in refrence speaking to the council officials. Also got a number and possible contact name for the local authority architects and planning office, may also be quite useful.

If anybody is unsure on how to approach their local councils, find out who represents your region from the CFDS and ask their advice also. I'm sure they will be willing to help you out.

Edited by Ewok
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Great thread Umadog!

Thanks for bringing this to our attention, hopefully we can make a difference here.

I have sent in my email :)

Question...Does or will the committe be able to control the use of street lights as well?

Michael

Edited by msinclairinork
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E-mail sent:)

Considering this is an Astronomy forum, i would like to think its in everyones interest to send even a quick e-mail letting the government know how much light pollution destroys astronomy and the riduculess waste of energy burning lights after 12pm.

I think every single member should send an e-mail off and lets gets something done for the good of our hobby.

This really is a golden chance to get in before its to late.

come on folks, 5 minutes of your time,...........JUST DO IT!:)

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I'm afraid I don't know if this is related to street lights. What I do know is that we will soon start seeing the shift from conventional lights to LED. I'm guess that much of our current lighting stock will change to LED in the next 10 to 15 years. We generally need to make our presence felt more strongly so that we're in a position to influence this change.

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LEDs don't have to blue/white. They can be made in other colours. Here are some details:

http://docs.darksky.org/Nightscape/Article_SeeingBlue.pdf

It is estimated that blue-white LED street lights will cause 2 to 3 times as much light pollution because:

1. The eye is more sensitive to light of these wavelengths so there will be more sky-glow.

2. Although LEDs are directional (which is good) they can be made so bright that shielding will no longer be effective. Also, I have seen designs where the LEDs point in all directions, so the possibility is multi-directional LED lighting is definitely on the cards.

We have be organised and motivated before this stuff hits us!

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My email has just been sent. I'm also going to contact my local councillors and try to find out if anything is in the pipeline locally. I will also be reminding them that there are local council elections in May if they don't show any interest :)

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To anyone interested in getting in touch with the council: People on the CfDS have experience in doing this, so get in touch with them for advice. For example, you can monitor local planning applications. If any look suspicious (e.g. new car dealership) then you can make enquiries about lighting. Apparently the process is fairly fast and straightforward. Always make sure you sell your ideas as a cost-cutting measure. Light heading upwards isn't making anyone more secure...

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Here is the letter I sent:

Hello,

I am writing to raise attention to the incredibly distressing issue of light pollution. I am 17 years old, and I am also an amateur astronomer. I was inspired to pursue science and consequently maths as a personal interest and an academic career, when I was inspired by the sight of the Milky Way spreading across the star-spilled night sky from the Indian Ocean - I could instantly see and feel my place in the universe, and I realised, at that moment, what I wanted to do with my life. Upon returning home, I never forgot the sight of such a spectacle - a spectacle which, sadly, is impossible to view in such a manner from the light-polluted cities and towns of the UK. It has since come to my attention that the entire night sky has been denied from so many of my fellow young people because of the endless waste of energy and resources, as light is thrown out into the sky night after night.

It seems incredibly unfair that people are denied the sight of nature's most amazing spectacle by people who are doing nothing but wasting energy and ruining the sky without batting an eyelid at the fact that the country has to pay millions of pounds extra per year for the privilege, and the fact that potential scientists are being refused the moments of inspiration which can shape their lives forever. I have no doubt that there are people in the world who would have grown up to be great contributors to science if they had seen the sky in all its perfect entirety with their own eyes while they were growing up.

I understand that, for many people, life on Earth takes precedence over thoughts among the stars. Urbanisation is a major part of the advance of humans. That is why I propose that we should try and adapt current circumstances to avoid the shameless waste of millions of pounds per year, and to allow people to once again step outside and see the universe shining down on them from their back yards. There are many ways to direct the light from every streetlamp in the country down to where it is needed instead of allowing it to shine up into the sky where it impossible to argue that it is doing any good. Such 'shielding' solutions will allow for the use of less powerful lights, and as a result, less electricity. Who in their right mind would actually pay millions of pounds to ruin the sky and the Earth for future generations? I believe that it is absolutely criminal to take away the basic right of our children and grand-children to see the cosmos, and our place in it, with their own eyes.

The attached photographs were taken from the International Space Station as it sailed over the UK and other light-polluted areas of the world - I hope that they highlight the dire nature of the issue - just look at the cloak of light blocking the sky from people on Earth. Please can we try to retain the sky.

Yours sincerely,

George Kristiansen.

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