Dark Skies

The High Weald is home to some of the darkest skies in the South East. It is an intrinsically dark landscape largely free of interference from artificial light, with breath-taking views of the stars.

However, light pollution is a growing issue in the AONB. It impacts the area’s precious wildlife, increases carbon emissions, and wastes money. It also affects people’s health and wellbeing, depriving them of a majestic view that has been enjoyed for millennia.

We’re working with communities and local authorities to protect the High Weald’s dark skies. From celebratory events and educational activities to data gathering to support new planning policies, you can get involved.

Join us and help keep our dark skies, dark!

What can I do to help?

There are some simple actions you can take to help reduce light pollution in your corner of the High Weald:

  • Light just the area you need
  • Shield and point lights down
  • Choose less bright bulbs
  • Use timers and sensors
  • Use warm-white bulbs

An easy way to remember is:

Turn it down, Tilt it down, Turn it off!

Download our handy guide to reducing light pollution and share it with your friends and neighbours.

a mother and daughter looking at a display board

How to get involved:

Wild About Dark Skies Festival

This February saw the first ever Wild About Dark Skies Festival.

Funded by the Sussex Lund grant programme, the Festival raised awareness of the negative impacts of light pollution to our darkest skies within the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It also celebrated the value of dark skies to wildlife and our own wellbeing – after all, the landscape above our heads is just as important as the landscape beneath our feet.

From Saturday 18 – Sunday 26 February, ‘Wild About…’ community groups in Battle, Burwash, Crowhurst, Etchingham, Ticehurst and Wadhurst came together to run a series of free events across their Parishes, with 63 volunteers at the heart of their success.

Attendees enjoyed planetarium shows, astronomy demonstrations, special guest speakers, light pollution workshops and dark skies storytelling for children.

If you represent a parish or community group in the High Weald and would like to get involved in next year’s Festival, please contact Samantha Nicholas on s.nicholas@highweald.org.

For community groups:

We’re working with local communities to collect light meter readings from across the High Weald to find out where our darkest skies are.

This data will inform our AONB Management Plan and future Dark Skies Policies.

We can loan SQM light meters to communities wishing to assess light levels in their area, and offer simple training via webinar.

Contact s.nicholas@highweald.org for further information.

What can you do?

For local authorities and parish councils:

Local authorities and parish councils are key in protecting our dark skies.

We are currently integrating Dark Skies into the next High Weald AONB Management Plan 2024-2029 as a key component of character. This will include clear objectives and actions for protecting our Dark Skies.

What can you do?

  • If you are part of local authority policy-making you can produce your own dark skies policy using these technical support documents available from the South Downs National Park Authority:

South Downs Technical report

South Downs standards report: Towards a Dark Sky standard

Bats and Artificial Lighting at Night – ILP Guidance Note

We are working towards these standards within our Management Plan for 2024.

We can support you in developing Neighbourhood Development Plan policies for Dark Skies.

For schools:

Teachers can access Dark Skies resources through our High Weald Hero education programme, including worksheets, quizzes and more.

We also offer a light pollution workshop for KS1 and 2.

There are also opportunities for schools to get involved in the Wild About Dark Skies Festival where children can learn about the wonders of the night sky and how to reduce light pollution in their home and local community.