Defending the stars in Central Otago

Night-sky pollution concerns

JO MCKENZIE-MCLEAN
Last updated 10:09 09/01/2014

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Stricter rules may be introduced to protect Central Otago's starry nights from sky pollution.

The Central Otago District Council plans to consider the ongoing issue of night-sky pollution as part of its district plan review process this year.

The council has received complaints from concerned members of the public about protecting the night-sky with continued subdivisions spreading into rural areas.

Councillor and Central Otago Astronomical Society member Barrie Wills said Central Otago's night sky was a big asset for the region and could gain reserve status ''down the line''.

''With the Tekapo situation, it would be nice to see Central Otago included under the same umbrella. At the moment it just includes that immediate area up over the Mackenzie Basin. There is no reason it could not be extended to Central Otago ''down the line''.

The region's night-sky presented tourism opportunities, particularly with trail-bike riders, he said.

''If we can get the overflow from people from Tekapo coming here, I think there are tourism opportunities. It is a drawcard - an international one. We can probably get a bit of leverage from that status if we played our cards right.

''We have got our district plan up for review next year it's probably something we should be thinking of. Maybe we need to put some bylaws in place that help to at least maintain the situation if not improve it.''

Councillor and Cromwell Community Board chairman Neil Gillespie said they had received complaints from residents concerned about night-sky pollution due to subdivision in rural areas, as well the impact of new lighting being installed at the Alpha St reserve.

''It is always going to be problematic. I am sure it's something we will be asked to improve on as we go forward.''

There were provisions in the current district plan but whether that was still appropriate or should it be more stringent would have to be considered, he said.

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