Submissions heard on proposed Dark Sky plan change

Dunedin astronomer Nick Simpson looks at star Alpha Crucis through a telescope at Naseby Domain...
Dunedin astronomer Nick Simpson looks at star Alpha Crucis through a telescope at Naseby Domain in 2022. PHOTO: ODT FILES
The power of community has brought Naseby’s skies one step closer to protection.

At the Central Otago District Council (CODC) hearings panel held in Alexandra yesterday, council chairman Neil Gillespie and councillors Martin McPherson and Ian Cooney heard submissions and reports on Plan Change 22 — Dark Sky to the Central Otago District Plan.

If successful provisions would be laid out in the district plan protecting the quality of Naseby’s dark sky through the establishment of lighting codes, local monitoring of compliant outdoor lighting codes and increasing awareness of light pollution.

Cr Gillespie said the Naseby community had been instrumental in pushing for the proposed plan change.

"There’s no doubt in anybody’s mind ... without the hard work that’s come from [the Naseby] community, we wouldn’t be here today.

"It shows the power of ... people and communities working together to make things happen."

Naseby Vision Incorporated Society, a community development group representing more than 380 Naseby residents, holiday homeowners, business people and farmers, has been pursuing International Dark-Sky (IDA) accreditation as a community since 2016.

In December 2022 the CODC was presented with a proposed plan change to bring a new chapter to the district plan around dark skies. Implementing the plan change would enable Naseby Vision to submit an application to the IDA for dark sky reserve accreditation. At the time, consultation and engagement with Aukaha, on behalf of Kāi Tahu, was still in progress and the council held off making a decision until there had been input from mana whenua.

That has since concluded and cultural context has been added to the proposal along with adjustments to assessment matters.

CODC planner Adam Vincent recommended the plan change be accepted, with minor changes to proposed provisions.

The hearing panel will make their recommendation to council at their July meeting.