Andalusia protects its skies
The autonomous community (the Spanish equivalent of USA's states, or German lander) Andalusia joins the territories that acknowledge light pollution as an environmental problem, and has made its first legal steps towards the protection of night sky. A new law, just promulgated, pursues the defense of the quality of the night sky at astronomical observatories in Andalusia and, also, the reduction of light pollution in a general sense all over the autonomous community.
On June 13th 2007, the Parliament of Andalusia approved Law 7/2007, bearing the title "Gestión Integrada de la Calidad Ambiental" (GICA: "Integrated Management of Environmental Quality"). This law comprises, modifies and enlarges all previous Andalusian legislation on environmental management. The legal text was made officially public in Boletín Oficial de la Junta de Andalucía on July 20th 2007, and it will rule from January 2008 on. This normative regulates all aspects of environmental management, from environmental impact for civil engineering, to acoustic pollution, passing through wastewater disposal and many other matters. The law includes, as an outstanding novelty, the first Andalusian regulation on light pollution.
- foreseeing, minimizing, and correcting the effects of artificial light scattering into the night sky;
- preserving the conditions of natural darkness to benefit night ecosystems in general;
- promoting an efficient use of public lighting, without detriment to security;
- reducing light intrusion into areas other than those intended to be lighted, mainly in natural environments and in residential buildings;
- protecting the quality of the sky and making its observation easier, both in general and in the surroundings of astronomical observatories.
This law bears a special interest for astronomy, because its goals expressly encompass the defense of night sky, protecting its quality and acknowledging the importance of its contemplation and study. The norm establishes the ground work that will define the legal procedure to design specific protection rules for astronomical observatories. This is a crucial point for the major optical astronomical facilities in Andalusia: Calar Alto Observatory and Sierra Nevada Observatory. It will be a priority for Calar Alto to follow the development of this law, and to participate in the design of the specific protection of its influence area.
Press release from the Astrophysical Institute of Andalusia (in Spanish)
International Dark Sky Association