Whole community switch over to dark skies friendly lighting

13 March 2023

Prominently-located Yorkshire Dales businesses including The Station Inn at Ribblehead also become dark skies friendly

An entire village in the North York Moors is helping to lead the way in efforts to curb light pollution with a project to ensure all exterior lighting is dark skies-friendly.

Mexborough Estates is part-way through a project, working closely with the North York Moors National Park, to switch to dark skies-friendly exterior lighting for every property and street light in Hawnby near Helmsley. The National Park believes it will become the first village in England to have converted not just streetlights and individual properties but also all public spaces, including the village hall and pub.

Example of non dark sky friendly lighting in the North York Moors

In total more than 100 lights on 30 properties are being converted to ensure they provide all the functionality needed, whether it’s for security or visibility reasons, but without throwing glaring rays of light into the night sky, which can make the stars less visible.

Alongside the Hawnby project, the Yorkshire Dales National Park is also making significant inroads into safeguarding its pristine night sky.  In the latest development, four prominently-located Dales businesses have received grants from the National Park Authority to cover the cost of introducing dark skies-friendly lighting.

The Station Inn in Upper Ribblesdale, near to the iconic Ribblehead viaduct, has installed 19 directional and well-placed exterior LED lights, significantly reducing glare and helping to make the surroundings perfect for astrotourism.

Station Inn South Pub facade before

Station Inn South Pub facade after

The other three businesses to install dark skies-friendly lighting are The Wensleydale Creamery in Hawes, including the Visitor Centre; the Stone House Hotel in Upper Wensleydale and the Yorebridge Sport and Leisure on the edge of the village of Askrigg.

Both National Parks achieved International Dark Sky Reserve status in December 2020. Since then both have embarked on a comprehensive programme of monitoring artificial light levels, providing lighting guidance on their websites* as well as working with councils, businesses and residents to advise and provide grant-funding for those looking to change their exterior lights.

In the case of Hawnby, manufacturers, such as Jim Lawrence and Ark Lighting, have also been involved in rolling out LED lights that are designed to prevent upward light and emit a softer, warmer colour, which has less impact on wildlife.

Mike Hawtin, the Dark Skies Officer for the North York Moors National Park explains: “A recent study concluded that people worldwide now see less stars with the naked eye due to skyglow caused by artificial lighting**. We’re aiming to show how relatively easy it can be for communities to take a similar approach to the one at Hawnby and help us protect the pristine qualities of our dark skies.

“There are a few other places in Wales and Scotland which have converted street lights to become dark sky friendly towns or villages, but we think Hawnby will be the first village to go even further by converting both street and external building lighting when the project completes later this year.

“We’re definitely not anti-light as it is needed for many different reasons, whether simply for unlocking your front door or operating machinery at night. The steps needed to prevent light nuisance can be as simple as altering the angle of a floodlight to ensure no rays are wasted by casting a harsh glare down an otherwise dark valley.”

Mexborough Estates owner Jamie Savile adds: “Hawnby is a small, traditional moorland village blessed with big and far-reaching open skies over the surrounding hills and moorland.  Through sensitive changes, we are aiming to make Hawnby the UK’s very first entirely Dark Skies Village. With hospitality and accommodation all close we hope the village will be able to offer a new, cosy style of nocturnal astro-tourism in a spectacular setting, both day and night.”

The publican at the Station Inn, Claire Hobbs, said:  “We have been delighted with the very positive difference to our business that the International Dark Sky Reserve designation has brought about.  By working with the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority and the Dark Skies initiative we have not only had support to make the inn ‘Dark Sky friendly’, with modifications to our outdoor lighting, but we also had support in terms of promotions and access to astronomers.

“We are now running regular star gazing evenings and incredibly each is a sell-out irrespective of whether they’re midweek or weekend events. This is generating much needed trade in the always tricky off-season.”

Hannah Kay, Dark Skies Project Manager for the Yorkshire Dales National Park added: “There are so many benefits to swapping to dark skies friendly lighting, particularly as newer appropriately angled low power LED warm light technology can reduce energy consumption. Beyond that, research has shown just how much wildlife needs true darkness, whether it’s night pollinating moths or birds roosting. There’s also the benefit to our own wellbeing and of course, the wonderment that comes from seeing a dark sky which is filled with thousands of stars.”

The next North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales Dark Skies Fringe Festival takes place 27 October to 5 November. Dark Skies Festival: Dark Skies Festival (darkskiesnationalparks.org.uk)

Notes to editors:

* External lighting guidance is published on both the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors National Parks’ websites

Good lighting advice - Yorkshire Dales National Park : Yorkshire Dales National Park

Dark Skies friendly lighting (northyorkmoors.org.uk)

** Citizen science findings published in Science magazine in January 2023 shows worrying growth in light pollution worldwide. Light pollution is skyrocketing | Science

The Dark Skies Festival runs across four protected landscapes - North York Moors National Park, Yorkshire Dales National Park, Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

North York Moors National Park

The National Park is a beautiful landscape of stunning moorland, spectacular coast, ancient woodland, dark skies and historic sites. Created on 28 November 1952, it became Britain’s sixth national park. The North York Moors National Park Authority works with a wide variety of people to care for this beautiful corner of Yorkshire. Nearly 14% of its staff are apprentices from local families. For more information go to www.northyorkmoors.org.uk

Yorkshire Dales National Park

The Yorkshire Dales National Park is home to stunning scenery, wonderful wildlife and a rich heritage. As well as being ideal for those who want to enjoy the outdoors, the National Park offers a wealth of attractions for visitors – from great food and places to eat, castles, abbeys and quirky museums, and opportunities to learn new skills. It is one of 15 National Parks in the UK and is administered by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.

Nidderdale AONB

Nidderdale AONB covers 603 sq km (233 sq miles) from Great Whernside in the Yorkshire Dales through to the edge of the Vale of York in the East. The fascinating geology of the area which has created a gorge and eye-catching rock formations, together with the tranquil expanses of water, open heather moorland, rolling pastures and scenic villages are among the special qualities of the AONB.

Howardian Hills AONB

Howardian Hills AONB covers 204 sq km (79 sq miles) of North Yorkshire countryside, nestled between the North York Moors National Park, the Yorkshire Wolds and the Vale of York. It is a captivating landscape with its well-wooded rolling countryside, patchwork of arable and pasture fields, tranquil villages and historic country houses with classic parkland landscapes.

For further information and images please contact Amanda Brown at A2BPR on:

T: 01423 740048
M: 07876 452580
E: amanda@a2bpr.co.uk

Or Nina Beadle, Communications Officer, North York Moors National Park Authority:
T: 01439 772577
E: press@northyorkmoors.org.uk

Or Andrew Fagg, Media Officer, at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority
T: 01969 652374
E: andrew.fagg@yorkshiredales.org.uk

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