The Clwydian Range and Dee Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) are spearheading a national all-Wales Dark Skies project.
Leading on behalf of the eight Designated Landscapes of Wales; Eryri, Bannau Brycheiniog, Pembrokeshire Coast National Parks, and Anglesey, Llŷn, Gower and Wye Valley AONBs, the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley AONB will manage the national Dark Skies project.
All Designated Landscapes have dark skies ambitions, all at different stages with everyone doing their own thing locally to improve their dark skies.
A commonality that has been found between all Designated Landscapes is capital works that can be done to improve night skies. By working together, the project hopes to have a positive impact on the protected landscapes. The NOS project already has 3 years of successful collaboration and partnership working across North Wales. The goal is to expand this across Wales to enable the project aims to be beneficial to Wales as a whole.
Clwydian Range and Dee Valley AONB has been granted funding through the Welsh Government’s Sustainable Landscapes Sustainable Places programme to fund lighting schemes and retrofitting projects across the 8 Designated Landscapes between 2022 to 2025.
The project will aim to reduce light pollution in these areas and to lessen the negative impacts for biodiversity, climate and public health and for the protection of Dark Skies.
Light pollution is an increasing issue globally, with an increase of up to 400% in the last 25 years.
It is only in recent years that the true impact on biodiversity has begun to be recognised. By reducing light pollution in designated areas the project will improve connectivity by restoring a natural nightscape.
Light pollution is a major driver of insect decline, especially winged insects and caterpillars. It disrupts the life cycle of a multitude of species both terrestrial and marine. Restoring natural darkness will strengthen ecosystem resilience and promote recovery of biodiversity. By looking at this on a landscape scale the project can significantly improve nocturnal corridors.
Dark Sky lighting is low energy and low carbon. It will lead to reduced carbon emissions in each designated area. Light retrofitting programmes will also reduce the overall energy consumption within the areas.
Cllr Win-Mullen James, Denbighshire Cabinet Lead Member for Local Development and Planning, said: “Light pollution is known to have a negative impact on human health as well, the dark skies project will work to reduce light pollution in key areas and will provide opportunities to connect people and communities to night skies and nocturnal biodiversity – and will promote the positive impacts of nature connectedness on our mental and physical wellbeing.”
As part of the project Ridge and Partners LLP a lighting design specialist company have been procured to work with the Dark Skies project to deliver light retrofitting projects in all eight areas. Ridge will start by visiting each of the eight areas to conduct a baseline light pollution survey and to identify opportunities for improvement and the biggest pockets of light pollution and areas where retro fitting of lights will have a significant impact.
They will identify and advise the project on which areas and buildings to target to produce the biggest positive change in light pollution.
Andrew Bissell Partner at Ridge and Partners said: “We are excited to be working on the pan Wales Dark Skies project covering all eight designated landscapes of Wales, the ambition of the project is inspirational, and we look forward to seeing the positive impact of the changes”.