Left in the dark over sky park

An elected member told members of the Cree Valley Community Council this week that the town of Newton Stewart had missed a golden opportunity to capitalise on the area’s biosphere status.

Mid Galloway Councillor Alistair Geddes was disappointed that Moffat had declared itself the ‘Dark Sky Town’ for the region when, in his words, “if any one town should have got the title it’s Newton Stewart. Newton Stewart have got nothing out of the biosphere designation.”

He urged the community council to push forward local links to the Dark Sky Park, based in the Galloway Forest, to “get as much benefit for the town and the hinterland.”

Last month, Moffat received the news that the International Dark Sky Association had declared it Europe’s first ‘Dark Sky Town’, giving it massive potential to attract tourists in winter.

The town’s three-year campaign to achieve this status resulted in £240,000 of Scottish Government funding to allow changing all the town’s street lights to eco-friendly LED lights to be dark sky friendly.

Dumfries and Galloway Council now plan to introduce a protection policy for Moffat in its next local development plan.

In November 2009, Galloway Forest Park became the first UK and fifth World International Dark Sky Park. It attained the award at the Gold Tier level making it a unique location and major accolade for Scotland and the UK.