‘Turn the lights down’

Calls grow for Government to recognise Landsborough light pollution

By Sonia Isaacs

LANDSBOROUGH Railway Station is the most light- polluted site outside of Maroochydore as calls grow to address the issue during off-peak periods.
As the Sunshine Coast Council moves towards the creation of a Dark Sky Reserve in Maleny and surrounds, calls are growing to address lighting levels in the lower hinterland, particularly the amount of light emitted at Landsborough station.
The station car park was expanded last year as part of the Beerburrum to Nambour (B2N) rail line upgrade, and is consistently lit from dusk to dawn.
Local astronomer, Dr Ken Wishaw, had visited the site several times at around 3am, and found light levels “exceptionally bright” and in combination with harmful blue light, was “the most light polluted location I have measured on the Coast outside central Maroochydore”.
Dr Wishaw, Convenor of the Maleny Observatory from the Brisbane Astronomical Society, said he had been made aware of complaints about lighting levels at Landsborough Station carpark.
Dr Wishaw said following up on these concerns he had visited the station carpark several times late at night and around three in the morning.
He said the level of lighting exhibited during the middle of the night seemed puzzling.
“The lighting level is exceptionally bright and lux meter readings were 5-8 times that prescribed by the Australian Standard,” Dr Wishaw said.
“In combination with the high blue content in the lights themselves, it is no surprise that overhead Sky Quality readings suggest this is the most light polluted location I have measured on the Sunshine Coast outside central Maroochydore.”
Queensland Rail Head of South East Queensland, Neil Backer, said Landsborough Station and carpark met the standard of lighting required for safety and security.
“We recognise the importance of balancing any environmental impacts of our assets with the security of those using the station and carpark,” Mr Backer said. “Safety is of utmost importance for our customers and these measures are used to keep everyone safe.”
Mr Backer acknowledged that the lighting at the newly constructed park ‘n’ ride section had capacity to be dimmed.
“The lighting at the newly constructed park ‘n’ ride does have a dimmer system, however lighting at the station doesn’t have the capability to raise and lower the lighting levels at this stage,” he said.
Mr Backer said that Queensland Rail had not received any direct feedback about lighting.
Dr Wishaw said while he appreciated the need for public safety, he questioned the intensity of lighting required during the middle of the night.
“I understand and respect the need for lighting for security purposes, but I am puzzled why to this level, particularly in the early hours when there is no commuter traffic or anyone using the car park,” Dr Wishaw said.
Sunshine Coast Council is proposing to establish a Dark Sky Reserve that would encompass areas of Maleny, Mapleton, Montville, Witta, Flaxton and Conondale.
Division 5 Councillor Winston Johnston said community involvement was a key element of the proposed reserve.
“In the hinterland, stars in the sky are etched into our identity,” Cr Johnston said.
“We’re seeking to understand what our dark skies mean for all our residents, groups and businesses, and we need to know if our community supports a Dark Sky Reserve.” haveyoursay.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au/dark-sky