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UK: Thanet Earth take every possible measure to minimise light pollution

Light pollution by greenhouses is a hot topic worldwide and horticultural screening installers and shading and screening manufacturers are developing all kinds of solutions to keep the light emissions as low as possible. Next to lowering the impact for the local residents and the environment, it is also very important to inform the public about measures that are being taken. The UK greenhouse cluster at Thanet Earth recently made a statement on their website to inform local residents about the steps that are taken by the growers to keep light pollution as low as possible.

"We do always look to maintain open and effective lines of communication with local residents and we’re happy to answer their questions on all aspects of our work", said Judy Whittaker, communications manager at Fresca Group. "We are also active through Twitter and have put a statement online as an easy reference point for people."

Thanet Earth's Statement:

Growing tomatoes under lights

"We don’t want to have a negative impact on our community through light pollution so we use a system of blinds in the glasshouses. The blinds also prevent us from being a visual distraction to local air traffic and mean that the light is focused down onto the crop, not wasted out through the roof or the sides of the greenhouse.

The manufacture of these blinds is extremely precise, and the maximum coverage possible is provided. For ventilation purposes we have to leave tiny gaps where the blinds meet. Despite taking every possible measure to minimise escaping light, even when the blinds are fully closed we estimate that approximately 2% of area is uncovered."

"In our experience of growing in this way at Thanet Earth since 2009, in most weather conditions this has a barely discernible effect on the night sky. However, when a heavy, low mist covers the site then we seem to suffer from a clearly visible night glow from the lit glasshouses. We have consulted experts in this field who have confirmed that this is caused by that small amount of escaping light being trapped and reflected repeatedly, thereby having a magnifying effect.

Regrettably, we are powerless to change the prevailing weather conditions, and to switch the lights off on such mornings would have a catastrophic effect on our plant health. We have a monitoring programme in place to capture data around the frequency of these mist days, and we are working with the blind manufacturers to test other products and technologies which might help alleviate the problem."

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