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Light Pollution

 

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Local Light Pollution

 

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When I first moved to my current residence in 1987, one of my principle reasons to move there was its location.  The telescope in my garden had an aspect almost clear of light pollution, with dark skies looking south, there was no serious lighting in that direction for miles.  It was as good an observing location as you could find in south east England.

In 1993, Eynsford Parish council decided to build a car park on green belt land south of my garden.  This was no problem until they decided to light it, justified, as they saw it, by a few acts of petty opportunist vandalism, which could have happened anywhere in the south east.  As a principle victim of this vandalism, I opposed this lighting from the beginning.  My opposition was initially ignored, then met with ridicule before my objections were dismissed out of hand as I was told they did everything ’democratically’ and I was outvoted. I became extremely angry with their attitude.

Ignoring all advice and objections, they built a lighting system fit for a motorway intersection in a rural spot on a greenfield site.  This lighting was visible for miles, illuminating the inside of my house and as these lights were on during all hours of darkness, locally they effectively banished night.  The Parish council declared that it was very pleased with the lighting, considering it a great improvement to local amenities. They were pleased with themselves.

Even when a negative article with pictures of their lights appeared on the front page of the ‘Sevenoaks Chronicle’, after they had heard from academics and my MP who claimed to be interested, and received a book sent to all Parish Councils instructing them how not to do rural lighting with a picture of their lighting on the cover as a worst example, they were completely unrepentant, still making absurd claims about me and my actions.

To the best of my knowledge, only two members of the council did not agree with this and tried to persuade them to take a different course of action.  Eventually the lighting was altered, but by only by the minimum amount they could get away with.

This former dark spot has been rendered useless for any serious astronomical observations by people who all, in part, gained their positions by claiming to be concerned with the local environment.  They clearly have exempted themselves from concern about light pollution, consistently doing nothing about it for over ten years. Levels of petty vandalism remain unchanged; however the lighting has benefited local teen drug dealers and the curious local phenomenon of dogging. This seems an appropriate epitaph for such needless, officially sanctioned vandalism.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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