Scilly’s AONB To Drop Plans To Promote Islands’ Stargazing Potential

View of night sky over St Agnes by time-lapse photographer Graham Gaunt

View of night sky over St Agnes by time-lapse photographer Graham Gaunt

 
The AONB is dropping plans to obtain International Dark Skies designation for Scilly.

Our stargazing potential had been touted as a possible draw for tourists and last year, the AONB successfully obtained the more limited ‘Dark Sky Discovery’ status for sites on each of the inhabited islands.

They’ve also organised events, such as the Big Star Count, to promote the lack of light pollution in our islands.

But Manager Trevor Kirk told attendees at Thursday’s AONB partners meeting that the cost of aiming for an international designation, similar to that obtained by Exmoor, would be too expensive at a time when the Council was looking to trim its budgets.

He estimated it would cost over £10,000.

He also said the AONB could not spare the time as they would begin writing their new management plan next year.

Chief Planning Officer, Craig Dryden, said the concept was great, and he could see the benefits for the islands, but it was a “double-edged sword.’

He said elected members would be unlikely to adopt anything that significantly added to the Council’s costs.

The Council would also have to adopt a formal lighting plan, meaning they’d have to pay for specialist advice.

But he said if grant funding could be found, then that situation could change.

Richard McCarthy suggested using the AONB’s own SDF grant fund to pay for the work.

He said they’d often struggled to spend the cash and this could be an appropriate use of the money.

He didn’t want to see the plan “kicked into the long grass” saying the skies above Scilly are spectacular and visitors find the views outstanding.

It seems unlikely that any more work will be done on this until a suitable partner, and the funding, is found.

Steve Sims, who hosts Radio Scilly’s astronomy feature and has organised stargazing walks on the islands, doesn’t feel the lack of an international designation will affect the islands.

He says it just seems to be a “box ticking exercise,” and anyone who lives here or visits will know that on a clear moonless night, the sky can be staggering.

He added that you only have to go a short distance in Scilly to get somewhere with a clear, unpolluted view of the night sky and the cost of trying to achieve that everywhere here doesn’t make sense.



2 Responses to Scilly’s AONB To Drop Plans To Promote Islands’ Stargazing Potential