Look at the stars, see how they shine for you…" - Coldplay

If you live in a town or city in the UK, chances are you can’t see many stars at night, due to inefficient street lighting.

The Dark Skies / Stargazing petition asks government to do something about this. There are two ways you can help.

The petition

First, please sign the petition from this link. This is the most important thing:

http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/27603

If you want to do more, you can write to your MP. We’ve already created a template letter for you (below), and given full instructions for how to contact your MP in 2 easy steps. Please let us know if you receive a reply from your MP by leaving a comment below.

Contacting your MP

Click here:

http://www.writetothem.com

Follow the on-screen instructions - start with your postcode.

Then paste in this letter. You can add your own message at the bottom of the letter, if you want to make it more personal and express your own experiences. Good luck!

Copy and paste this letter (don’t copy the “tags” at the foot of the letter)

I am writing to you about the Campaign for Dark Skies, a movement supported by astronomers and large swathes of the public to reduce unnecessary light pollution and bring back the night sky to our towns and cities. You may be familiar with this from the recent BBC Stargazing Live programmes.

My letter to you has three key messages which I will summarise here:

  1. Light pollution is destroying our view of the night sky, which in turn significantly affects science and the natural biological functions of humans and wildlife;

  2. Hundreds of millions of pounds of public money are being wasted in energy bills through inefficient street lighting, and the wasted energy is significantly contributing to the UK’s climate change emissions; and

  3. There is a petition, which I am asking you to support, calling on government to protect the night sky and act on the waste of money and energy.

The “Stargazing” petition: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/27603

Well lit streets help reduce accidents and tackle issues around fear of crime. The petition I am writing to you about is aimed at making street lighting more effective, so that the light is directed where needed (at the ground) and does not escape and pollute the sky. It asks for government to produce a coordinated strategy to tackle this issue, by designating the night sky a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and putting in place a long-term strategy to ensure local authorities upgrade their street lighting to meet higher standards. These standards are well described by the Campaign for Dark Skies run by the British Astronomical Association here:

http://www.britastro.org/dark-skies/guidelines.html

There is a growing need to tackle light pollution from inefficient street lighting. The Campaign for Dark Skies estimates that up to £120M could be saved by by local authorities implementing energy efficiency measures in street lighting. However, this will need investment up front, and the return on investment may take ten years, which lies outside most local authorities’ ROI timelines. But when we add in what could be saved by more appropriate use of night lighting on private buildings and households, this figure reaches £1bn in potential savings across the economy.

The long term investment approach will see savings in every local authority in the country. And then there is the other cost to consider: to the environment. Recent studies estimate the UK releases up to one million tonnes of CO2 from public street lighting per year [1], and that this can easily be cut by 15%. This results from inefficient street lights which allow over thirty percent of their light to escape, uselessly, to the sky. The UK is aiming for an 80% cut in CO2 by the year 2050. A coordinated strategy of reducing light pollution will help the UK meet its carbon reduction targets.

[1 – source - http://www.scotsnet.org.uk/iss-lighting.php ]

With energy costs at an all time high, a typical local authority could be spending over £1M on street lighting energy costs per year. And the Highways Agency will have a similar spend. With over 30% of light wasted, the potential for saving significant amounts of money and CO2 is clear.

There are other advantages to human and animal health, too, which are detailed by the British Astronomical Association here: http://www.britastro.org/dark-skies/health.html?7O

Voluntary measures have been taken in some local authority areas, such as Leicester, Doncaster and Newport. But progress is slow and dependent on individual officers taking up the cause.

I ask you to support this petition in two ways:

  1. Please sign the petition and circulate to your networks; and

  2. Please represent my concerns in Parliament and to the appropriate Government Departments and Ministers.

The petition can be found on the Direct.gov e-petition website here:

http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/27603

I thank you for your time.

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