Environment and Ecology Group
Dark skies - Why do Dark Skies matter?
Darkness itself provides a multitude of benefits. It is essential for humans and wildlife, by maintaining a 24-hour cycle of night and day – natural biorhythms which people and animals have adapted to since time began. A dark night-time allows us to sleep and to rest, ready for the next day. It relieves stress and allows our immune system to replenish itself, preventing brain disorders. Wildlife uses darkness for different reasons – to hide from predators, or conversely hunt for prey; for breeding, feeding or migration. When the daytime pollinator species such as bees and butterflies turn in for the night, nocturnal species such as moths and some beetles or bats take over – the importance of which is something we are only now beginning to understand. If that was not enough, a proactive approach to choosing the right kind of lighting (if any) for properties or streetlighting, will lead to cost savings and a reduction in CO2 emissions.
The lack of artificial light helps the area to retain its rural character and feeling of tranquillity. Minimal major development, industry or major trunk roads result in considerably dark skies and dark landscapes with stunning views of the stars above and a closer connection to nature. Darkness contributes to the quiet, rural feel of this part of Norfolk which in turn encourages wildlife such as the breeding and over-wintering birds we see each year, or the large number of seals which use the beaches and dunes, plus countless mammals, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates found in the mosaic of habitats along this stretch of coastline. People too are attracted by the remote and peaceful nature and choose to live here or visit on holiday, knowing we are not a resort. Dark skies are another pillar in our proactive approach to protecting our immediate environment, sending a message to all who visit the village about our lifestyle and priorities.
Light pollution is a growing issue, unfortunately, particularly with increasingly available and affordable lighting and a trend for large amounts of lighting on the outside of buildings. However, light pollution can easily be reversed and is something to which everyone can contribute. We do not need to compromise on security or comfort – but we can light the ground when it’s needed and stop lighting the sky!
The following link suggests what you could do: ‘do your bit’
The E&E Group is hoping to suggest a programme of enhancement/improvements for Winterton, businesses and residents, to encourage and promote dark skies while meeting residents’ wishes for security and safety in the use of night lights. Investigations with subsequent consultations could include: timers on streetlights; replacement with ‘downlights’; suggestions that residents could adopt themselves; seeking support from green initiatives locally and nationally; influencing planning to consider night lights; use of solar batteries; ‘brightness’ of LED lights; use of passive infrared (PIR) sensors so lights are only used when they are needed; practical assistance in conversions; joining with the North Norfolk ‘dark Skies’ campaign; protecting and valuing the dark skies that we have; and other initiatives arising. Could the village hall be a model?