AN application to have Gower recognised as a place with a striking view of the night sky is being finalised.
Swansea Council officers will send it to an organisation called the International Dark-Sky Association. If successful, Gower will gain “international dark sky communities” status – one of five dark sky designations.
This would demonstrate that the area has relevant outdoor lighting guidance and makes an effort to educate people about the importance of dark skies. It is hoped the designation would further boost the area of outstanding natural beauty’s tourism appeal.
Conservation group the Gower Society said it part-funded a feasibility study on dark sky status years ago, and was keen to know how the application process was progressing.
Gordon Howe, of the Gower Society, said: “Swansea Council have done a lot of work on this. They’ve produced a lighting guide, which has been approved.”
Mr Howe said the night sky in the west of Gower in particular was “rather special”. He added: “In my experience of tourism, people love to come to places where they can see the stars.”
Mr Howe urged businesses to take advantage of advice from council officers and grants, if they were available, to amend their exterior lighting. He claimed a council-owned activity centre in Rhossili – formerly a school – had five exterior lights which stayed on all night pointing east.
A council spokesman said a draft application to the International Dark-Sky Association was shared with the Gower Society last August, and that this was now being finalised before being sent off. The authority is also converting street lighting in Gower to Dark Sky-friendly LED units.
James Mead, the joint owner of Greenways caravan and camping park, Oxwich, said the business has been installing compliant lighting in recent years and would continue on that route.
“I’m all for Dark Sky-friendly stuff – we’ve been working towards that for years,” he said.
But Mr Mead said he wasn’t sure if dark sky communities status would necessarily attract more people to Gower.
The Brecon Beacons, Snowdonia and Exmoor national parks all have a designation called international dark sky reserve status, while the Elan Valley Estate, Powys, is a recognised dark sky park.