The state government has produced a new dark sky and astrotourism position statement with a view to preserving West Australia’s best stargazing spots for tourism.
WA minister for transport, planning and ports Rita Saffioti unveiled the new policy on Monday.
“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,” Saffioti said.
“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.
In order to preserve the state’s ‘high-quality astronomical observation’ sites for stargazers, the policy calls for limits of light and dust pollution, in addition to support measures to astrotourism.
Some of the opportunities earmarked by the statement include plans for desert tours, nature-based camping, festivals, photography and education-based experiences. Aboriginal cultural experiences could also be a core component of WA’s astrotourism offering.
Today we released the Dark Sky and Astrotourism Position Statement to protect our night skies from light and dust pollution.
WA's clear night skies have long been a destination for scientific and recreational star-gazers – and we want to protect this natural asset. pic.twitter.com/cBAGlXxQxa
— Rita Saffioti (@Rita_Saffioti) January 31, 2022
“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,” Saffioti said.
The statement was developed in consultation with stakeholders including government agencies, local council representatives, members of the public and Perth’s resident observatories.
Moving forward, the government hopes that decision-makers will consider pollution sources and the potential impacts of artificial lighting in planning decisions. It is anticipated that another positive effect of the guidance will be cheaper and more efficient lighting options.