THE stars above Sussex are disappearing, a conservation group claims.

More than half of people living in the county can no longer see a sky full of stars from their homes, a study by the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England’s (CPRE) Sussex arm found.

A nationwide star count was carried out in February, which asked people to count how many stars they could see in the constellation of Orion.

It discovered that 53.4 per cent of people surveyed in East and West Sussex suffered from “severe light pollution”.

The Argus:

Most people from the county who took part said they could see fewer than ten stars, the marker for severe light pollution, while 21 per cent could see fewer than six stars.

CPRE and the British Astronomical Association’s Commission for Dark Skies believe local councils have the power to give people better views of the night sky.

CPRE chief executive, Crispin Truman said: “We’d like to see councils adopting better policies in local plans to tackle light pollution and protect and enhance our darkest skies.

“There are straightforward steps councils can take, in consultation with local people, that don’t just reduce light pollution but save energy and money too.”

The Argus:

But one astronomer has said that light pollution has plummeted during the UK lockdown. Robin Durant, chairman of the, Adur Astronomical Society, has snapped a series of stunning shots in recent months and said he had been enjoying clearer skies with fewer cars on the road and planes in the sky.

Further positives can be taken from the fact that, in the CPRE study, 71 per cent of those surveyed in Sussex who recorded an abundance of stars lived in the county’s protected areas – many living in the High Wield.

The South Downs National Park is also an International Dark Sky Reserve.

It was awarded the title in 2016.

The Argus:

These are areas which have an “exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and nocturnal environment that is specifically protected for its scientific, natural, educational, cultural, heritage and public enjoyment”.

A spokesman for the International Dark Sky Association said: “Reserves consist of a core area meeting minimum criteria for sky quality and natural darkness and a peripheral area that supports dark sky preservation in the core.

“Reserves are formed through a partnership of multiple land managers who have recognised the value of the natural night-time environment through regulations and long-term planning.”