Renewed call for natural lakeside track lighting

NIGHT sky advocates are calling on the community to reconsider the need to illuminate the Lake Wendouree in light of the latest scientific findings.

They will host a forum next week in a bid to re-open talk on plans for lighting along the Steve Moneghetti Track, a long lobbied project among the lake’s sporting and recreation users.

This comes after Victorian Opposition Leader Matthew Guy made a $1.7 million pledge to the project, should the Liberal Nationals win government in November. 

Ballarat Observatory manager Judith Bailey, who is also International Dark-Sky Association Victoria secretary, said it was important people hear all perspectives, particularly environmental impacts, based on up-to-date knowledge.

“The lighting industry has been slow to recognise the affects on humans, flora and fauna,” Ms Bailey said.

“We’re in a different industry now than when the first public consultations were made. We have reasonable and fair arguments against the lighting.”

Lake users, including Moneghetti, have been lobbying for lake lighting about the six-kilometre track loop for more than a decade. A wide range of user groups have cited safety, including high-risk of collisions due to blinding from headlights, and track visibility as a key issues with the dark track.

The project has been deemed top priority on City of Ballarat’s Lake Wendouree master plan and is supported by the city to promote health and well-being.

Under the proposal, heritage-style lighting would only light up the track, leaving areas off the track dark, and would be on a timer in the evening and early morning.

Ms Bailey said it was important to go deeper into the track issues and explore other options and perspectives, including the benefits of natural ambiance at night.

Forum for the Future of Lighting at Lake Wendouree is supported by Field Naturalists of Ballarat, Ballarat Astronomical Society and International Dark-Sky Association Victoria. The open forum is at Almeida Pavilion, next to Pipers by the Lake, on August 17 at 5.45pm. RSVP to bas@cbl.com.au.

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