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                 Wairarapa Councils take key step toward international dark sky status

July 12, 2021 July 2021 No Comments

“This is a critical step for the Wairarapa community as it heads towards establishing a dark sky reserve across the region,” chair of Wairarapa Dark Sky Association, Viv Napier, said Wednesday.

The comments follow approvals by South Wairarapa and Carterton District Councils of lighting plan ordinances that will ensure outside lighting in the two areas meets international dark sky reserve requirements.

At meetings Wednesday the councils formally adopted new lighting controls which are needed to comply with the rules of the International Dark Sky Association (IDA) for formal dark sky reserve status.

The changes will allow the two councils to better manage and control light pollution across the region.

“South Wairarapa and Carterton are ahead of most other councils in incorporating dark sky lighting controls in their district plans,”  Viv Napier said.

The councils, together with Masterton District Council, have worked to develop the new lighting rules over nearly two years. The IDA has already indicated strong support for the rule changes, expected to come into force almost immediately.

New lighting rules need to be in place before the dark sky group can submit a dark sky reserve application to the IDA.

“The international body had given its endorsement to the plans ahead of their adoption,” Mrs Napier said.

Key changes to the current lighting ordinances include:

– new outdoor lighting must be tilted down or shielded so the light goes out and down _ preventing glare and sky glow;

– ensure the “colour temperature” of lights is 3,000 Kelvin or under; higher Kelvin ratings mean the light is whiter and contains more undesirable “blue” light;

– outdoor lights on a 5-minute or less lighting sensor/timer are exempt from the above rules;

– sport and recreation lighting to address/control light pollution, requiring fewer resource consent approvals for sports recreation facilities to install compliant outdoor lighting.

– the new rules only apply to new lighting. The aim within 10 years: 80% of our outdoor lighting will comply with International Dark Sky requirements. When lighting is replaced or renewed it should comply with the new rules.

“Our volunteer group wants to put on record its sincere thanks to Councillors and planning staff for the interest and support they have given the dark sky conservation project which we began nearly four years ago,” she said. “Good things always take a little time.”

Formal international dark sky reserve status will be sought later this year.

South Wairarapa, Carterton and Masterton District Councils, together with Greater Wellington Regional Council, have supported the international dark sky accreditation process for the range of environmental, conservation, economic, social and cultural benefits it will offer to the region.

Viv Napier, chair WDSA 

Photo caption: Milky wayPhoto courtesy Pete Monk

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