Page 1979 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 27 June 2023

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Researchers from the University of Sydney have found that different temperatures of lighting impact certain species of insectivorous microbats. For example, changing the streetlights from warmer mercury vapour lamps to cooler LED lights can lead to a decline in some of these bats in cities. However, if we use best practice lighting design, we can ensure that our lights are appropriately warm and shielded. This is especially important on the outskirts of our cities, where we need to avoid light penetrating into unlit bushland and nature corridors.

While there is more work to be done, I would like to discuss some of the initiatives that the ACT government is trying in order to minimise light pollution’s impact on wildlife. Firstly, I would like to touch on the National Light Pollution Guidelines for Wildlife. The ACT government now requires new developments to adhere to the National Light Pollution Guidelines for Wildlife.

These guidelines mandate light spill assessments for proposed lighting that is adjacent to the habitats of threatened and migratory species, ecological communities and species protected under our legislation that are known to be affected by artificial light. For example, guidelines are applied to migratory shore bird habitat, such as that of the Latham’s snipe. They are also considered for other species and the potential impacts of lighting in the Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary.

There are examples of ecologically sensitive public space lighting. Several new developments in the ACT have implemented ecologically sensitive public space lighting. The Dairy Road development, for instance, commits to limiting artificial light spill levels into the Jerrabomberra Wetlands, ensuring that they are no greater than before the development. This protects the Latham’s snipe from additional disturbance.

Light pollution impacts are also being taken into account in the planning of new suburbs. In Whitlam, the potential impacts of car headlights on the adjacent Kama Nature Reserve were considered, and measures such as a retaining wall and special streetlight designs are being explored.

There are also the urban interface guidelines. The Suburban Land Agency, in collaboration with the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate and other ACT government stakeholders, have developed urban interface guidelines. These guidelines include requirements for controlling light pollution in the interface between greenfield estates and nature reserves. These will be tested in the future greenfield suburb of Kenny.

These examples demonstrate the innovative ways in which the ACT government is addressing the issue of light pollution and its impact on native wildlife. I really appreciate Mr Braddock’s motion and look forward to how it can contribute to positive change for our city and the creatures that call it home

MR BRADDOCK (Yerrabi) (4.07), in reply: I would like to thank all members for their enlightened contributions—some brighter than others. With its leafy suburbs and generous open spaces, Canberra has long been known as the bush capital. Its reputation in this area is being further enhanced by the ACT government’s tree planting programs, habitat restoration, water quality projects and so much more.

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