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Isles of Scilly to become Dark Sky Reserve

The Isles of Scilly is to be designated an International Dark Sky Reserve, bringing added protection and potentially attracting dark sky tourists in winter.

Photo by David Sherris

Scilly currently has five Dark Sky Discovery Sites - local sites nominated for their outstanding views of the night sky - but Kevin Hughes from St Ives said that this gives no protection and did not require any light meter readings.

He explained: "I'm writing a dark sky policy for West Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly with the help of the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust and Cornwall Council. This will be registered with the International Dark Sky Community and will give full protection status.

"West Cornwall and Scilly will then become an International Dark Sky Reserve. The registration programme is about 12 months in now."

Kevin is currently conducting a Sky Quality Survey to support the application, finding suitable areas on the islands for light meter readings.

An International Dark Sky Reserve is a 'public or private land possessing an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and nocturnal environment that is specifically protected for its scientific, natural, educational, cultural, heritage and/or public enjoyment'.

Other areas with the designation include the Brecon Beacons, Exmoor, Bodmin and the Lake District.

Kevin, who is chairman of Towednack Parish Council and sits on Zennor parish council, went on: "We have support from the National Trust and the Duchy of Cornwall. Once the area becomes a Dark Sky Reserve it will open up all sorts of funding for dark sky tourists, helping to make the Isles of Scilly a winter destination as well.

"With the added support of the international Dark Sky Communities, being a Dark Sky Reserve protect our night skies from future light pollution. There are wildlife benefits, health benefits from sleeping in dark sky areas, as well as dark sky tourists and the funds that will be released to the area."

He added: "I served for many years on St Ives lifeboat and dark, starry skies can be much more of an advantage than an orange glow from a town's light when out at sea at night."

The Isles of Scilly is the darkest district in the UK, according to a June 2016 report by the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

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