Dark Skies Community Status Update

Milky Way from St Helena © Paul Tyson

St Helena is in the process of seeking Dark Skies Community Status with the International Dark Sky Association (IDA).

St Helena is one of the most remote places in the world, and over the years have hosted visits from famous pioneers including Edmond Halley, Neville Maskelyne and Henderson whose work have contributed to the advancement of celestial knowledge worldwide. 

Dark Skies accreditation will add to the Island’s appeal as a tourist destination and subsequently support economic development. It will also have a positive impact on the environment in that it will protect the natural environment, conserve biodiversity, protect the night sky, and reduce energy waste and carbon emissions.

To achieve Dark Skies Community Status, amendments will have to be made to the Environment Protection Ordinance (EPO). This will enable the regulation of the use of artificial light at night in order to preserve and sustain the natural environment of St Helena. 

The proposed amendments take into account the advice from Dark Sky Lighting Consultant, James Paterson, who visited the Island in 2018.  During his visit, James attended public consultation meetings to provide an insight into dark skies accreditation requirements. James also met with the Land Planning & Development Control Authority and held training sessions with Island stakeholders, including private sector electricians, SHG Planning Officers and importers of lighting fixtures.

The proposed amendments to EPO provide for:

  • Protection of natural environment and night sky from uncontrolled use of artificial light
  • Reduction of energy waste and carbon emissions
  • The development or adoption of a code of practice to regulate use of artificial light and provide educational information
  • Exemptions for certain types of lighting such as lighthouse and navigation lighting
  • Prohibition on importation and sale, installation and use of non-compliant lighting
  • Lighting zones to be specified in a development plan under the Land Planning and Development Control Ordinance with details about controls and levels of lighting for different zones, etc
  • Light reduction at prescribed times
  • Exemptions from light reduction
  • The Chief Environmental Officer to grant permission for non-compliant temporary lighting
  • Light readings to be taken
  • The Chief Environmental Officer to issue abatement notices to rectify non-compliant lighting
  • Penalties for offences – failure to comply with abatement notices
  • Regulations to be made regarding the installation and operation of artificial lighting, and for forms, fees and procedures to be adopted to give effect to the requirements within the Ordinance.

Further information about the application for Dark Skies Community Status will follow. There will be an opportunity to attend a surgery and listen to radio talks in the upcoming weeks. In the meantime, a copy of the draft Bill for an Ordinance to amend the Environmental Protection Ordinance can be viewed on the SHG Website via: https://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/government/public-information/. Alternatively, a hard copy can be obtained from the Environment, Natural Resources & Planning Directorate by contacting the receptionist on tel: 24724.

#StHelena #DarkSkies #Tourism #Stargazing

26 March 2021   

St Helena Government Communications Hub

Telephone: 22470
Email: communications@sainthelena.gov.sh