Proposal to protect West Cornwall’s dark skies had an inaugural meeting of local Councillors, astronomers, a representative of the National Trust, our local MP and a Cornwall Council planner to advise. If achieved, it is recognised by the planning authority so would be taken into account for any future development. To dispel an early myth, it does not mean no lighting or the need for homes to have blackout curtains!
Working towards achieving International Dark Sky Designation has been an idea floating around a few folk in West Cornwall for a couple of years and is an ambition of the Isles of Scilly where they have already achieved Dark Sky Discovery site status. As a Cornwall Councillor for St Just-in-Penwith and being Cabinet Member for the Environment, I was asked to convene a meeting of interested folk to see if we could make some further progress towards achievement. So, I contacted the Parish Councillors who had got things started, they invited our local MP and I invited a neighbouring Cornwall Councillor, another Town Councillor, a couple of astronomers, the area manager for the National Trust and a representative of Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (they sent apologies due to the stormy weather on the evening). The planning officer who advised and supported Bodmin Moor to achieve Dark Skies Designation came to help us understand the process and options to achieve it.
Feedback suggests it was a positive meeting. Before we meet again in January we are going to check out whether those on the Isles of Scilly and/ or the Lizard with an interest want to work with us to make this one project. If so, we might achieve a bid of sufficient scale to go for the Reserve Designation rather than the smaller Park status that Bodmin achieved. We are also going to make contact with the International Dark Sky Association in the States, the body that approves designations to check our eligibility for the various categories. We were missing input from wildlife experts and I know that protecting our dark sky environment is very important to the survival of some threatened species so, I’m sure I can get Cornwall Wildlife Trust on board.
Anyone reading this who is thinking “What is this Dark Sky Designation about?” – the link below will give you some background.
If that wets your appetite and you want to roll up your sleeves and do the work needed to progress this project then do get in touch. If you are interested but do not want to get so actively involved then look out for publicity of engagement events next year, through Cornwall Community Network Panels (probably West Penwith, Hayle & St Ives and possibly Helston & South Kerrier) but other places too.