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Good lighting advice

The night sky viewed from the New Forest National Park is the seventh darkest out of the 10 National Parks within England. It has a high percentage of dark skies with minimal light pollution – here’s an interactive map.

We can all enhance this further with efficient and environmentally sensitive lighting. Here is a good lighting guide to how we can achieve this as well as help wildlife and our own wellbeing.

Our planning team works hard to help conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the New Forest National Park. It’s the same when it comes to protecting our exceptional night sky from the problem of light pollution.

Why does the night sky need protecting?

Artificial lighting is making the night sky brighter than it ever has been, disrupting the natural day-night pattern and shifting the delicate balance of our environment.

It can be linked to the decline in numbers of certain bat, bird and insect species in some places disruption to our biological rhythm – increasing stress and disturbing
sleep patterns.

There are simple changes we all can make such as turning outdoor lights off when they’re not needed or pointing lighting downwards. Making these small improvements to lighting can lead to huge improvements in the quality of our dark night sky.

Outdoor lighting not only wastes energy and money – it creates light pollution.

If you really want to install outdoor lighting, choose compact LED downlights or fully shielded pendant style fixtures, preferably with sensors to switch off when not needed. Also:

  • Angle lights downward – so there’s no unnecessary light above or near the horizontal
  • Lamps of 500 lumens and less are appropriate for most domestic purposes
  • All lights should have a colour temperature less than 3000K as a default specification
  • Point where the light is needed
  • Switch lights off when not needed. Use proximity sensors. Avoid dusk-till-dawn sensors. Ensure that sensors cannot be set off by passing animals at night (e.g. foxes, badgers).
  • Light to the appropriate illuminence – do not over light needlessly
  • Install at the lowest possible height to achieve lighting levels
  • Avoid bright white and cooler temperature LEDs
  • Shut the curtains at night

Bad light fittings 

Avoid unshielded or poorly shielded floodlights that can’t be tilted sufficiently to shine below the horizontal, as well as common ‘bulkhead’ style fittings that scatter light in all directions. 

The Institution of Lighting Professionals (ILP) website is a useful source of information and advice on lighting and reducing obtrusive light and has published this guide.

Easy ways to protect and enhance our dark night skies 

  • Here are some Lighting Tips and Guidance from our colleagues at the Yorkshire Dales National Park
  • You can find a more detailed Dark Sky Toolkit document here which has examples of lighting that should be considered to reduce nuisance and light pollution.
  • Download ‘Towards A Dark Sky Standard’ lighting guide which provides great advice from our neighbouring South Downs National Park for both domestic and non-domestic lighting. Anyone who designs, installs or manufactures lighting should find this useful.

For further Dark-Sky compliant lighting and lighting unit guides see:

  • Cranborne Chase AONB International Dark Sky Reserve has produced some lighting guidance which you may find useful. You can download it here.
  • South Downs National Park International Dark Sky Reserve lighting guidance. This is a technical guide designed to provide developers and planners with the necessary information to submit and assess lighting schemes which are appropriate to a Dark Sky Reserve/Landscape. You can download it here.

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