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Presteigne and Norton in Wales earn ‘dark sky’ status, pioneering eco-friendly lighting for clearer night skies.

Presteigne and Norton, in Powys, Wales, have been named Wales' first "dark sky community" by DarkSky International. To reduce light pollution, the towns are dimming or switching off lights earlier. This allows residents to see the night sky more clearly, reports BBC News.

Leigh-Harling Bowen, leader of the Presteigne & Norton Dark Skies Community, praised their six-year effort. "The Community has worked tenaciously over the last six years to highlight the benefits of becoming a dark sky community," he said. Benefits include using low-energy 'dark skies' streetlights, reducing environmental impact. This has cut greenhouse gas emissions and positively impacted wildlife, including night-flying insects, birds, and bats. Residents can now enjoy clearer views of the night sky.

Powys, the largest county in Wales, encompasses the 15 square mile dark sky area. Presteigne and Norton's combined population is 2,700. The towns conducted lighting tests to meet Dark Sky Community standards. Resident feedback was also considered during the project.

The area's 380 lighting columns were fitted with 2200K LED lights. After midnight, 40 percent turn off, with the rest dimming to half intensity. This reduces light brightness, extends bulb life, and cuts energy use.

Cllr Jackie Charlton from Powys County Council highlighted the project's sensitivity to wildlife. "We are making sure that lights don’t adversely affect bat routes or otter feeding areas," she said. The lanterns' 2200K color temperature is both nature-friendly and dark sky compliant.

The initiative has reduced the area's annual carbon emissions by nearly five tons. Amber Harrison, Dark Sky Places program manager, commended the unique use of adaptive lighting technology. "This work signals an important shift in community-level lighting design," she said.

The project's success has prompted consideration of similar plans across Wales. "We are delighted by the outcome of Presteigne’s and Norton’s application to Dark Sky International," Bowen said. He credited the coordinated support of local councils for the achievement.

Jay Tate from the Spaceguard Centre noted initial skepticism. "There was a certain amount of resistance at the beginning," he said. However, once explained, residents were more than happy. Tate, who scans the night sky for comets and asteroids, finds his work now much easier.

Future plans for Presteigne and Norton include improving private, festive, and industrial lighting. Community events are also planned to further enjoy the dark skies.

Cllr Charlton hopes other communities will adopt similar benefits. Mayor Beverley Baynham of Presteigne and Norton observed that residents might not notice the change. "It’s just lit in a more intelligent way," she said. This improves light pollution and environmental impact without compromising safety.

Samira is an Electronics and Communications Engineer by profession, but deep inside, her heart is a nomad! She's a state champion debater, a public speaker, a scriptwriter, a theater actress, but most importantly — A GREEN CITIZEN! She thinks of herself as a storyteller who thrives on enjoying the life at fullest and telling everyone the tales of life.

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