Social Justice and Light Pollution

In 2019 the government published the “Landscapes Review” (also known as the “Glover Report”) which was highly critical of successive governments’ inability to do “enough to protect nature or welcome diverse visitors, and extra government funding must help drive radical change”. Consequently one of the author’s recommendations is “Proposal 8: A night under the stars in a national landscape for every child”

Being able to visit dark sky areas in the UK requires time, money and transport. The lack of public transport, particularly at night means that people wanting to visit UK dark sky areas need to have a car. Consequently, families from disadvantaged areas of the UK and poorer backgrounds are under-represented in visitor numbers to our National Parks and AoNBs.

manchester trinity way light pollution
Trinity Way in Manchester. Image: Mark McNeill

In the USA there is a direct link between how “good” or “bad” urban community lighting is used in affluent areas compared to disadvantaged areas. Disadvantaged areas in the USA tend to be mainly non-white communities – a reflection of the social problems related to embedded racism in the USA system. A group of like-minded USA lighting experts have put together the “Light Justice” group, who seek to implement “…the practice of planning, designing, implementing, and investing in lighting for historically neglected communities through a process of stakeholder respect and engagement.” We need something like this in the UK to improve access to darker skies, for everyone. (Watch this space…)

Visit the Light Justice webpage here.

Watch a recording of an IDA advocates workshop about light pollution and social justice here.

You can find out more about social justice and light pollution by exploring our research database here using the search term “social justice”.

What’s the Solution?

The DarkSky UK continues to lobby the government to improve access to rural dark sky areas, but our main focus is to encourage towns and cities to apply for “Urban Night Sky” status for parks and green spaces.

Or go one step further and turn your neighbourhood into a “Dark Sky Community” like the village of Moffat in Scotland!

If you want to find out how to start the dark sky application process and find support and advice with your application, then get in touch via our contact form.

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