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Turn down the lights and discover the benefits dark skies bring

Officers from the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, Pembrokeshire County Council and Natural Resources Wales are encouraging members of the public, businesses and organisations to join a county-wide effort to reduce light pollution.

As well as giving people a clearer view of the dark skies above, reducing light pollution can also benefit wildlife and improve your health.

There are eight designated Dark Sky Discovery Sites in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. These are some of the best places to experience the night sky, away from areas where the stars are obscured by light pollution, but are easy to access.

Enjoy the National Park after dark: Poppit Sands is one of Pembrokeshire’s eight Dark Sky Discovery sites.
Enjoy the National Park after dark: Poppit Sands is one of Pembrokeshire’s eight Dark Sky Discovery sites.

Park Authority Health and Tourism Policy Officer, Hannah Buck said: “It is difficult to capture in words the experience that people gain from looking up at the sky on a clear night in a place that is free from light pollution, where the stars and the magnificence of the Milky Way can be appreciated.

“Light pollution not only obscures our ability to see the stars, it also wastes energy which in turn can lead to increased levels of greenhouse gas emissions. This has been proven to have a negative impact on human health and can have significant impacts on wildlife.”

Park Authority Biodiversity Officer, Sarah Mellor added: A number of our bat species such as horseshoe bats are very sensitive to artificial lighting and will actively avoid lit areas. Light pollution can completely change their environment and can lead to them abandoning roosts or delaying their emergence from roosts reducing their foraging time. In some cases lighting can even cut them off entirely from the best insect-rich feeding areas.

“Birds can also be affected. The Pembrokeshire islands of Skomer and Skokholm are home to 350,000 pairs of Manx shearwaters. Each year the young emerge from their nest burrows in September to begin their migration to South America. These inexperienced birds are easily put off course by artificial lighting on the mainland and on ships. Each year volunteers help to rescue grounded Manx shearwaters and release them back at sea to continue their journey.”

One of the simplest ways to show your support for the effort to reduce light pollution is to take part in Earth Hour, which will see lights across the globe turned off from 8.30pm-9.30pm on 30 March.

Businesses and landmarks around the world also take part in the initiative, switching off their lights to help make a noise for the Earth Hour movement. For more information on Earth Hour visit www.earthhour.org.

Any local residents, community councils or businesses that would like to know about dark skies or light pollution should contact Hannah Buck by emailing hannahb@pembrokeshirecoast.org.uk.

To find out more about the Dark Sky Discovery sites in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park visit www.discoveryinthedark.wales/pembrokeshire.

Published 15 March 2019


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