Friday, May 15, 2009
Where are the stars?
No I don’t mean the film stars or the TV stars , I mean the ones that twinkle. Those of us who live in urban areas forget what the sky really looks like when the stars can be clearly seen. If you go out into the wilderness of parts of Wales or Scotland on a clear night you suddenly realise how full the sky is of stars and how magnificent it can look.
The reason we don’t often see it like this is because of light pollution. Street lights, security lights and floodlights all throw light into the air and mask the heavens. We seem intent on having more and more night time lights as we get obsessed with security.
I was therefore appalled when the chief planning officer of Birmingham suggested that we light up Spaghetti Junction so it can be seen in space. This is the man whose department is supposed to be ensuring that light pollution is controlled and kept to a reasonable level. Environmental Protection UK suggests that if people think they are affected by light pollution, they should complain to the local authority who are legally required to investigated it. Here in Birmingham the pollution may well be the local authority if Clive Dutton gets his way.
It is not clear whether we should be worried or not. At a recent street hustings in Harborne the Council Leader, Mike Whitby was challenged about the Spaghetti Junction scheme and he gave an assurance that it was not council policy and would not happen. A senior Lib Dem Councillor, Alistair Dow gave a similar answer when challenged at the same event. Both the councillors seemed to be embarrassed that a senior council employee had made the suggestion in the first place.
Perhaps we all need to reinforce the Councillors views by telling them ours.
In Esthers Blog she is already doing this.