Today, I attended The Sutton Bank Star Hub, an officially recognised place where anyone can stargaze above the North York Moors, as well as a Dark Sky Discovery Site.
Dark Skies are an incredibly important part of the rural environment here in Thirsk and Malton, offering a significant boost to the rural economy in winter from astro-tourism. Moreover, the impact such experiences can have on children and their education about the universe is crucial, serving as a gateway to a career in science.
The Dark Skies initiative, led locally by North York Moors National Park, works with businesses, councils and households across North Yorkshire to reduce unnecessary light pollution to significantly increase the visibility of planets, stars and galaxies, including the one we inhabit, the Milky Way.
I'm very proud that the North York Moors National Park is one of just six UK National Parks awarded International Dark Sky Reserve status. The boundaries of the National Park must continue to be protected from light pollution, given the work involved in becoming an International Dark Sky Reserve. The Dark Skies & Nature Hub has ongoing obligations for conserving and protecting dark skies and I will continue to offer support to them in future.
Sutton Bank Star Hub creates a focal point for events, education and awareness about the importance of dark skies. To follow developments in Parliament, please visit the All-Party Parliamentary Group's page on Dark Skies: https://appgdarkskies.co.uk/
The Government has confirmed any changes to the planning framework will give careful consideration to proposals relating to dark skies during the review process. The framework already requires that planning policies and decisions should "limit the impact of light pollution from artificial light on local amenity, intrinsically dark landscapes and nature conservation." The Department for Transport has also encouraged local authorities to replace street lighting with more modern technologies such as LED lighting units in order to reduce glare.