It is no secret that the National Park has some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world – but many people don’t know that it also possesses some of the darkest skies in the UK. In fact, the skies above our National Park are so special that the Bannau Brycheiniog Park Society, along with Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority, are applying to the International Dark-Sky Association to become Wales’ first International Dark Sky Reserve.
With generous funding from the Bannau Brycheiniog Trust, the Dark Sky project is led by Bannau Brycheiniog Park Society and the National Park Authority, along with collaboration from the University of Glamorgan, Dark Sky Wales and the Campaign for Protection of Rural Wales.
The highly prestigious status –given to only a handful of international destinations – would create new opportunities for tourism and the local economy and would also help to protect the region’s magical night skies for future generations. It will also help residents and visitors to enjoy them and allow a whole host of nocturnal creatures to take advantage of them.
To move forward with the accreditation a lighting survey is starting on the 10th March which will assess the quality of external lighting fixtures in the National Park. Lighting engineers will be surveying areas of the National Park during the daytime and a new leaflet is being distributed across the National Park to tell people how they can help or get involved in the project. The leaflet also lets residents know what they can do in their homes to help protect the night sky from light pollution by offering practical advice to improve the lighting at their property.
Jim Wilson, Chairman of Bannau Brycheiniog Park Society said: “We want to let people know about this fantastic opportunity so that we can get as much local support as possible to help us achieve this status. The lighting assessors will not visit people’s properties without asking for permission first. And this doesn’t mean we will be asking anyone to remove their lights, rather to ask that we’re more mindful of the way we all use light – which will reduce their energy bills too!
“Reducing light pollution has a number of environmental, wildlife, economic and health benefits and some people may already be supporting the Dark Skies project without even being aware of it. Simple things like putting your security lights on motion detectors or timers, or tilting them downwards instead of skywards are small tips that make a massive difference to how we view the sky at night.”
Mrs Margaret Underwood, Biodiversity Member Champion for Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority said: “For many, the opportunity to enjoy clear starry nights is a thing of the past. For much of our wildlife the disruption caused by street and security lights has had quite an impact on their life cycles. Glow worms – once a magical and common site are now rarely seen. A simple change from a 500 watt halogen security light to a 23 watt bulb that can be retro fitted can make a world of difference to the sky and the pocket. The Dark Skies project is a chance for people and wildlife alike to enjoy some of the benefits of reducing light pollution.”
If anyone wants more information about how they can reduce their light pollution and support the Dark Skies initiative, visit www.breconbeacons.org/darkskies or www.breconbeaconsparksociety.org/national-park/dark-skies/ contact us by email or by telephoning Ruth Coulthard on 01874 620 481.