• Cranborne Chase AONB Office, Rushmore Farm, Tinkley Bottom, Tollard Royal, Wiltshire, SP5 5QA  Tel: 01725 517417

New interactive Dark Skies map

Jun 16, 2016
New interactive maps offer most detailed ever picture of England’s light pollution and dark skies


CPRE Dark Skies mapCranborne Chase AONB ranks 8th darkest out of the 34 AONBs

The most detailed ever satellite maps of England’s light pollution and dark skies, today released by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), have shown that 52% of the AONB is in Band 1 – which is the darkest category.

The maps, produced using satellite images captured at 1.30 am throughout September 2015, show that as well as having 52% of the AONB in the darkest category, 40% of the AONB is in the next darkest category.

This makes the Cranborne Chase AONB one of the darkest places in England! There are 34 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in England which protect 26% of our darkest skies. This research comes at a time of increasing awareness of the harmful effects light pollution can have on the health of people and wildlife. That these skies were monitored at 1.30am illustrates just how long into the night England’s lighting spills.

The new maps were produced by Land Use Consultants from data gathered by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in America. The NOAA satellite captured visible and infrared imagery to determine the levels of light spilling up into British skies. CPRE is sending lesson plans to primary schools in order to promote the enjoyment of dark skies. CPRE is calling on the local authorities which fall within the AONB Boundary to use these maps to identify areas with severe light pollution and target action to reduce it, as well as identifying existing dark skies that need protecting. 

Our CPRE branch recommends that:

  • The Local Authorities responsible for lighting policy in the AONB develop a policy to reduce light pollution in their emerging local plans.
  • The CPRE maps be used to inform decisions on local planning applications and identify individual facilities that should be asked to dim or switch off unnecessary lights.
  • Local businesses review their current lighting and future development plans to save money by dimming or switching off light to reduce pollution.

Emma Marrington, senior rural policy campaigner at the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), said:

“Our view of the stars is obscured by artificial light. Many children in urban areas may not have seen the Milky Way, our own galaxy, due to the veil of light that spreads across their night skies. “Councils can reduce light levels through better planning and with investment in the right street lighting that is used only where and when it is needed. “Our Night Blight maps also show where people can expect to find a truly dark, starry sky. The benefits of dark skies, for health, education and tourism, are now being recognised, with areas such as the South Downs National Park receiving International Dark Skies Reserve status. Dark skies are a key characteristic of what makes the countryside so different from urban areas.”

CPRE’s interactive maps can be accessed at http://nightblight.cpre.org.uk/.

You can sign up to the Cranborne Chase Dark Skies pledge at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NL375VD

For more information please contact Linda Nunn on 01725 517417.