Light pollution visible at Angle Tarn. Photo: Rob Fraser

Light pollution visible at Angle Tarn. Photo: Rob Fraser

A Lake District town will embrace its dark side to emphasise the effects of light pollution.

Ambleside’s Big Switch Off also aims to raise awareness of energy consumption on climate change.

Community groups, residents, businesses and Cumbria Highways will take part in the event from 9.30pm on Saturday 10 April.

The lighting switch-off aims to demonstrate the value of dark skies for people’s enjoyment and health and for wildlife to flourish. The event is being co-ordinated by Ambleside Action For A Future and the Dark Skies Cumbria Project and will take place during International Dark Skies Week.

Gillian Kelly, AAFAF co-ordinator, said: “We are privileged to live in a beautiful area and we know we must reduce our carbon footprint as individuals and as a community.

“Electricity consumption is rising rapidly; switching to renewables is vital and low energy LEDs are now the norm. We must also look to reduce the wasteful use of energy and ask ourselves, do we really need so many lights on all through the night?

“Unlike some environmental problems, such as plastics in our lakes and oceans which will take decades to clear up, we can switch off lights in an instant.

“Working with Friends of the Lake District’s Dark Skies Project officer Jack Ellerby, we are also asking people to use well shielded lights so the beam shines downwards and not up into the night sky. The Big Switch Off will hopefully also encourage home and business owners to install timers so their lights go off overnight when they are not needed, or open for business.”

Groups supporting and taking part in the Big Switch Off include St Mary’s Church, Ambleside CofE Primary School and the University of Cumbria which will be turning off its outside campus lights overnight.

Steve Crook, chairman of Lakes Parish Chamber of Trade, which is also backing the event, said: “Covid lockdowns have hit our businesses terribly, particularly our hospitality and non-essential retailer sectors. Enjoying the dark skies especially during the quieter winter months offers an important attraction and reason to come and stay in Ambleside.

“Equally, as businesses we need to continuously look at our overhead costs, and with energy prices going only one way, if we can reduce our electricity use so much the better.”

Organisers said if resident and business feedback is positive, the idea is to make it an annual event in February during CPRE’s Star Count Week when days are short and the stars can be seen earlier in the evenings.

As well as raising awareness of the need to save electricity and reduce carbon emissions, the aim is also to enhance views of the night sky and help boost visitor spending in the town to support the economy.

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