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Villagers complain that world famous night sky view is being ruined by 'ghastly' Shell garage

Emily Brown

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Villagers complain that world famous night sky view is being ruined by 'ghastly' Shell garage

The moon, the stars, and the intense lights of a service station. Can you imagine a more picturesque scene?

The residents of Thropton, Northumberland, certainly can, and let's just say the petrol station isn't involved.

Locals in the area became furious after petrol company Shell set up shop in the area, opening up a service station complete with a Spar, a butchers, a hot food counter and deli in November 2022.

The service station was built in November 2022. Credit: SWNS
The service station was built in November 2022. Credit: SWNS

The station would presumably offer up some new job opportunities as well as the additional services for the 458 residents in the area, but many aren't happy with the development.

It's been built in the village which sits on the edge of the Northumberland National Park; an area named one of the world’s best places to gaze at the stars.

Residents have accused the service station of being the source of light pollution which limits visibility of the stars, and could consequently drive away tourists hoping to take in an unobstructed view of the night skies and Northern Lights.

Criticising the decision to build the station, one resident said: “We are fortunate to live in one of the most unspoilt areas of Northumberland yet they slap a big service station in the middle of us.

“There is blatant light pollution seeping into the night sky. This corner of Northumberland is world famous for its dark skies. It’s a real shame this accolade wasn’t considered when this came before the planners.”

Locals have accused the station of being the source of light pollution. Credit: SWNS
Locals have accused the station of being the source of light pollution. Credit: SWNS

Another local argued Shell should have built the station elsewhere, saying: "The village is three miles away from Rothbury which has 2,000 residents but that doesn’t have a petrol station. Why didn’t they put it there and leave our dark skies alone?

“We have several pubs and guest houses in the village which rely of people coming to enjoy the night sky. Without that tourism, particularly in winter when the skies are at their most dramatic, many businesses will struggle.”

The row over the building gained so much attention that a local Facebook group even decided to conduct a poll of residents to shed light on the issue, with interesting results.

According to the ‘Rothbury & Coquetdale’ Facebook group, 98 percent of people didn't find the lights at the station to be a problem - but it the remaining 2 percent described it as 'ghastly' and a 'blight on our landscape'.

A complaint has been made to the council about the lighting. Credit: SWNS
A complaint has been made to the council about the lighting. Credit: SWNS

Local councillor Steven Bridgett, who represents Thropton, said a complaint has been made to Northumberland County Council regarding the lighting.

“What I will say is that the lighting scheme that is currently in place is very different from what was originally proposed and a lot more conservative (than was previously proposed).”

A spokesperson for Shell said the site in question is a 'dealer owned site' and that the owner is 'aware of the complaint regarding lighting coming from this service station.'

"The service station currently meets regulation requirements for light pollution. We are aware the area being gold-tier for star-gazing, and are currently exploring suitable solutions to dim the lighting to address this concern," they added.

LADbible has reached out to Shell for further comment.

Featured Image Credit: SWNS

Topics: Environment, UK News

Emily Brown
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