Responding to the article in the Courant last week, I would like to congratulate Wil Cheung on his commitment to make Hexham a Dark Sky Town.

We are very fortunate to live in a beautiful county that has the ‘most pristine’ dark skies in England (CPRE Night Blight Report 2016).

However, we cannot afford to be complacent. Our dark skies need to be protected from the increasing light pollution caused by excessive artificial light at night.

It is becoming increasingly evident that inappropriate outside lighting, especially poorly installed blue-rich LED floodlighting (any LED light of more than 3000 Kelvins) is diminishing the quality of our night skies.

Becoming a Dark Sky Town does not mean plunging us back into the dark ages or stumbling around in the darkness.

Most of us rely on some form of outside lighting for safe access and for others, a sense of security at night, which no one would deny, but over-lighting our streets and properties with bright and intrusive floodlighting does not necessarily make our places more accessible, or safer at night.

Being dark sky friendly is about us thinking where we want the light to shine, how much light we need, if at all, and when do we want it on.

And if we decide that outside lighting is required, ensuring that it is facing downwards (fully shielded), not outwards onto your neighbour’s property or so bright that it can be seen right across the valley.

Too much artificial light at night can also affect nocturnal animal behaviour and our own sense of health and wellbeing by creating in effect, daylight at night.

Another aesthetic consequence of over lighting a property is that it can have the unfortunate effect of making the building look more like a high-security prison, rather than an attractive, comforting place to live or work in. Is that what we want for our buildings in Hexham?

One other reason to protect our dark skies is that dark sky tourism in Northumberland is now worth £25m a year to our visitor economy, supporting around 450 jobs.

If Hexham were to become a Dark Sky Town, it would not only help conserve the darkness of the Northumberland International Dark Sky Park nearby but provide the town with new opportunities for hosting stargazing events and festivals that would attract new visitors and provide a much welcome boost to Hexham’s visitor economy in the autumn and winter months in future.

I wish it every success.