Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Dark skies the limit for stargazers with new position statement released

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Hon Rita Saffioti BBus MLA, Minister for Transport; Planning; Ports (WA), Media Release, 31 January 2022

The McGowan Government has moved to ensure the State’s best stargazing spots are preserved and their tourism potential unlocked, with the release of the Dark Sky and Astrotourism Position Statement. 

Dark sky and astrotourism

Western Australia’s clear skies are ideal for high-quality astronomical observation and have long been a destination for both scientific and recreational stargazers.

The policy sets out to preserve and protect the night sky through limiting light and dust pollution, while signalling support for astrotourism – an emerging niche within the local tourism market – with countless opportunities across the State.

WA is uniquely placed to deliver a diverse range of astrotourism offerings such as desert tours, traditional Aboriginal cultural experiences, nature-based camping, festivals, photography and education-based experiences.

The policy enables planning decision-makers to consider pollution sources, potential impacts of artificial lighting, and to encourage more efficient and cost-effective lighting options.

Developed in consultation with the Western Australian Local Government Association, Shire of Gingin, City of Wanneroo, the Gravity Discovery Centre, Perth’s resident observatories, community members and a range of Government agencies, the position statement can be viewed here.

Comments attributed to Planning Minister Rita Saffioti:

“Western Australia is perfectly placed for world-class stargazing, with our dark night skies offering a uniquely clear glimpse into the treasures of our solar system and beyond.

“Preserving the darkness, in certain locations, means we can continue to build scientific knowledge, and offer some of the most extraordinary cosmic displays – for visitors, locals, and importantly, for future generations of Western Australians.

“We now have a plan to protect this extraordinary natural asset through sustainable planning measures, while enabling exciting astrotourism opportunities that will boost local economies and jobs.”

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