Dark Sky Status (Cornwall)

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:42 pm on 29th November 2017.

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Photo of Derek Thomas Derek Thomas Conservative, St Ives 4:42 pm, 29th November 2017

I congratulate my hon. Friend Mrs Murray on securing this debate and on giving us the opportunity to talk about Cornwall. I extend the invitation much further than east Cornwall, right down to west Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, which are darker still in lots of ways.

Cornwall is already one of the darkest areas in England. It is well documented that becoming a dark skies reserve has positive effects, including energy reduction and a boost to tourism. It also improves wellbeing—first, for mankind, as it is proven that people sleep better under dark skies, and secondly, for migrating birds, nocturnal animals and mammals. My constituency, like much of Cornwall, has a track record of caring for the environment and wildlife. An example we are proud of is the seabird recovery project on Scilly, where we have supported and increased the population of the Manx shearwater, of which I am a species champion, and other seabirds by getting rid of rats and litter. That is one example of our commitment to create the best possible environment for wildlife and nature.

What interests me most about the dark skies status proposal is the west Cornwall and Isles of Scilly initiative, which will create a protected area from Bishop’s rock, 45 km of the south-western tip of Cornwall, right through to the Hayle river, covering the Isles of Scilly and most of what we know as west Penwith. The Lizard peninsular is also in my constituency but is not included in the current proposal for dark skies reserve status, for understandable reasons—there are a couple of rather large towns between Lizard and west Penwith. However, I intend to do what I can to explore that ambition for the good people of the Lizard peninsular.

I am grateful for this debate, because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We already live in an unspoiled dark skies area down in the far south-west; we just do not have official recognition.