Moors light pollution '˜to be better managed'

Plans to manage light pollution in one of Yorkshire's finest areas for stargazing are set to be developed in the new year.

Stargazing is the focus of an annual Dark Skies Festival every February in both the North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales national parks.
Stargazing is the focus of an annual Dark Skies Festival every February in both the North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales national parks.

The North York Moors National Park Authority has approved the formulation of a new management plan to build on the area’s growing appeal for celestial observation in a move which could help it become internationally recognised for the quality of its dark skies.

The initiative is part of the national park’s plans to spend its compensation windfall from the developers of the York Potash mine, near Whitby. A four-year plan to spend about £8m of the Section 106 funds, awarded to offset the mine’s impact on the park’s landscape and tourism economy, was agreed this month.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The plan includes £127,000 spread over three years to develop guidelines to manage external lighting in the park and to implement a grant scheme.

Briony Fox, the national park authority’s director of polyhalite projects, said the plan would include guidelines to conserve and enhance the quality of dark night skies above the park. She said it would recommend types of lighting, inform how lighting should be controlled and set out criteria that any new developments in the park would need to meet.

“In the long term, preparation of a lighting management plan would be an integral part of the process of preparing for an application for recognition under the International Dark Skies Programme,” Ms Fox said.

Stargazing has become popular in the park thanks to an annual Dark Skies Festival run jointly with the Yorkshire Dales National Park. The next festival runs between February 9 and 25.