COUNTRYSIDE campaigners are calling for action to tackle light pollution, after a study revealed just one in fifty people can enjoy truly dark skies.

THE Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has published the results of its Star Count 2019, which saw a record 2,300 people taking part and included volunteers across Dorset and Hampshire.

Running for three weeks in February, the survey revealed just two per cent of participants were able to experience a ‘truly dark sky full of stars', due to the impact of light pollution caused by street lighting and other artificial lights, even in the countryside.

CPRE dark skies campaigner Emma Marrington said: “We are hugely grateful to the many people who took the time to get out and take part in our Star Count. But it is deeply disappointing that the vast majority were unable to experience the natural wonder of a truly dark sky, blanketed with stars.

“Without intervention, our night sky will continue to be lost under a veil of artificial light, to the detriment of our own health, and the health of the natural world."

The cosmic census, supported by the British Astronomical Association, aimed to promote dark skies and engage people in the wonders of stargazing.

Star-spotters submitted the number of stars that they could see within the constellation of Orion and the results used to create an interactive map displaying people’s view of the night sky.

But it also demonstrated the impact that light pollution is having on people’s view of the stars.

Well over half of all participants (57 per cent) failed to see more than ten stars, meaning that they are severely impacted by light pollution.

In contrast, only 9 per cent of people experienced ‘dark skies’, counting between 21 and 30 stars, and just 2 per cent experienced ‘truly dark skies’ and were able to count more than 30 stars.

Mrs Marrington said: "The Star Count results show just how far reaching the glow from street lights and buildings can be seen.

"Light doesn’t respect boundaries, and careless use can see it spread for miles from towns, cities, businesses and motorways, resulting in the loss of one of the countryside’s most magical sights – a dark, starry night sky.

"By using well-designed lighting only when and where it is needed, investing in street light dimming schemes and considering part-night lighting – which should of course be done in consultation with the local community and police – councils have a fantastic opportunity to limit the damage caused by light pollution, reduce carbon emissions and save money."