For our April meeting we welcomed Dan Oakley, Lead Ranger from the South Downs National Park International Dark Sky Reserve (IDSR), known as Moore’s Reserve, who gave a fascinating presentation on this important and valuable asset.
In 2016 the South Downs National Park became the 2nd (IDSR) in England and 12th in the world. There are more than 2 million people living within 5kms of Moore’s Reserve so it is one of the most accessible in the country. To map the night sky quality 25,000 different measurements had to be made and 66 per cent of the South Downs National Park has Bronze Level Skies.
The dark skies over South East England are constantly under threat from light pollution from building development, and as a result of this 2,700 street lights have already been replaced with downward facing LED lights. Dan emphasised that much of the outside lighting used at night was inefficient, overly bright, poorly targeted, improperly shielded and also in many cases completely unnecessary. He encouraged us all to think carefully about where and how we light our properties.
Dark skies are not only good for star gazing but are also beneficial for nocturnal wildlife, helping moths and bats to thrive.
Dan had insisted that the meeting room should be made as dark as possible at the start of his presentation and cleverly demonstrated the effect of light pollution. He firstly displayed on the screen a stunning photograph of the centre of the Milky Way, he then, without warning, shone a bright torch into the room. The result being that the Milky Way disappeared from the photograph, emulating the effect of light pollution in the real world.
In future the South Downs National Park will use its role as a planning authority to protect the dark skies above the National Park as well as the landscape on the ground. Specific lighting requirements for developers to meet will be included in the Draft Policies of the Local Plan.
A short AGM took place after refreshments where a new committee member, Chris Dilks, was elected and all existing committee members were re-elected unopposed.
Tricia Hall followed with Nature Notes and reported that many butterflies had been seen such as the Brimstone, Peacock, Red Admiral, Commas and Orange Tip. Cowslips, Primroses and Celandines are in bloom in Clover Lane and on the Rife White Blackthorn blossom is evident. Around ten Wheatear had been spotted in the vicinity and a Cuckoo has been heard around the East Preston/Ferring Gap. Whitethroat and Blackcap are about and a Chiffchaff has been seen at Warren Pond along with a nesting pair of Moorhens.
To conclude the meeting Ed Miller advised us that six planning applications for Ferring were due for discussion at the next Development Control Committee meeting in May. There are two new applications; one in McIntyre’s Lane for the conversion of an old silo into offices and at 78, Langbury Lane for conversion to a home for Adults with Special Needs. Ed commented that the Arun Draft Local Plan is due for consideration in early July.