Presteigne and Norton became the first community in Wales to be designated as an International Dark Sky Community by DarkSky International.
This achievement represents a unique collaboration between the local community, Presteigne and Norton Town Council, Powys County Council, and Dark Source Lighting Design Studio to pursue a dark sky ambition by tackling light pollution. Covering an outer area of 40 square kilometers and a combined population of 2,700, the historic Radnorshire towns of Presteigne and Norton are located in Powys, the largest and most rural county in Wales.
The local community and project group worked hard to ensure the two towns complied with the requirements to meet the International Dark Sky Community criteria. Comprehensive lighting tests were carried out, and community feedback was vigorously sought throughout the project.
A total of 380 lighting columns in the area were refurbished with 2200K LED luminaires, with a large majority employing full cut-off beam. 40% of the lights have been programmed to switch off, while the remaining 60% have been pre-set to half their intensity after midnight. In employing such curfew and dimming profiles, light intensity, and energy usage are significantly reduced while the longevity of the luminaires is extended.
The project has reduced the area’s annual CO2 emissions by 4.5 tonnes, and this has been facilitated by the extension of the scheme into a nearby industrial estate under the jurisdiction of the Welsh Government so that the lighting character is consistent across the town.
“The approach taken to retrofit lighting using adaptive technology is unique among Dark Sky Places and will serve as an excellent example of how communities can use lighting technology to improve safety and energy efficiency. This work signals an important shift in community-level lighting design, showing that being dark sky-friendly doesn’t mean turning out the lights. I am excited to see how this will influence others in the future,” Amber Harrison, the Dark Sky Places Program Manager, remarked.
The success of this lighting project has prompted the authorities to consider rolling similar schemes out across the county, thereby empowering many other communities to pursue dark skies accreditation if they so choose, which is a wonderful ripple effect for the continuity of dark skies across Powys and Wales.
“We are delighted by the outcome of Presteigne’s and Norton’s application to Dark Sky International to become a Dark Sky Community! Without the dedicated and coordinated support of both Presteigne and Norton Town Council and Powys County Council, it would never have happened. The Community has worked tenaciously over the last six years to highlight the benefits of becoming a dark sky community to all stakeholders. These benefits include an investment in the use of efficient, low-energy ‘dark skies’ streetlights that have reduced our impact on the environment. This change has resulted in a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, along with a beneficial effect on wildlife, especially night-flying insects, birds, and bats. The consequential reduction in light pollution has also enabled us to see the glory of the night sky clearly, a legacy that our children and grandchildren will continue to enjoy,” said Presteigne & Norton Dark Skies Community Leader Leigh-Harling Bowen.
“Presteigne & Norton Town Council have been pleased to work closely with Powys County Council and Dark Source Lighting to become a Dark Sky Community. It has taken several years to reach this milestone achievement, but I am sure all the hard work has been worth it, and the community are already seeing the benefits. We now have intelligent lighting that has seen all our streetlights turned back on but with bulbs that are compliant with Dark Skies. This will benefit both residents living in the community and the environment. Thank you to everyone who has made this possible,” remarked the Mayor of Presteigne & Norton Town Council, Cllr Beverley Baynham.
“The council’s highways team has been working hard throughout the county to make improvements and efficiencies to our street lighting. By working with local communities and wildlife groups, we are making great progress in reducing both light pollution and carbon emissions. In particular, we are making sure that lights don’t adversely affect bat routes or otter feeding areas and specifically use a colour temperature of 2200K for our lanterns so they are nature-friendly and dark sky compliant. We are delighted that we have been able to help Presteigne and Norton achieve dark sky community status, a first in Wales and England, and hope that other local communities will follow suit and champion dark skies in the future,” said Cllr Jackie Charlton, Powys County Council’s Cabinet Member for a Greener Powys.
In the future, Presteigne and Norton will continue their hard work by focusing on improving private, industrial, and festive lighting whilst organizing community events to broaden the value of dark skies.
About the International Dark Sky Places Program:
Founded in 2001, the International Dark Sky Places Program is a non-regulatory and voluntary program to encourage communities, parks, and protected areas worldwide to preserve and protect dark sites through effective lighting policies, environmentally responsible outdoor lighting, and public education. When used indiscriminately, artificial light can disrupt ecosystems, impact human health, waste money and energy, contribute to climate change, and block our view and connection to the universe. Presteigne and Norton Dark Sky Community now joins more than 200 places worldwide that have demonstrated robust community support for dark sky advocacy and strive to protect the night from light pollution. Learn more by visiting www.darksky.org/conservation/idsp .
About DarkSky International:
The mission of DarkSky is to preserve and protect the nighttime environment and our heritage of dark skies through environmentally responsible outdoor lighting. Learn more at darksky.org.
Tracey Price, Presteigne & Norton Town Council Clerk
0044 1547 528575
Leigh Harling-Bowen, Presteigne Dark Skies Group
0044 7490 153528
Dark Sky Places Program Manager, DarkSky International
+ 1 (520) 347-6363