THE island of Coll in the Inner Hebrides has won ‘dark sky’ status – a designation which the community hopes will boost winter tourism by attracting stargazers.
The status, awarded by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), follows years of work by local residents who have painstakingly taken measurements of the darkness.
The nearest lamp post is some 20 miles away on the neighbouring island of Mull.
Coll is the second area in Scotland to be awarded Dark Sky status, and just the second island in the world with the designation. There are only 22 locations with the accolade worldwide.
Argyll and Bute Council supported Coll’s application and Councillor Fred Hall said: “The Isle of Coll is a unique island in many ways, not least of which is its beautiful countryside and sea views but also the lack of light pollution.
“I can think of no better island in the inner Hebrides to gain the Dark Skies accolade.”
Six sites around UK
Coll was awarded dark sky status at the same time as Northumberland Dark Sky Park in England, bringing the total number of dark sky places in the UK to six, following on from Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park, Sark Dark Sky Island, Exmoor Dark Sky Reserve, and Brecon Beacons Dark Sky Reserve.
International Dark-Sky Association member Steve Owens, a dark skies consultant resident in Glasgow, helped Coll in their bid for dark sky status.
He said: “This is a fantastic achievement for Coll, placing them in a very select family of places around the world that have worked to protect their night sky.
“The fact that the UK now has one quarter of all of the International Dark Sky Places across the globe shows that there is a real appetite here for night sky protection, and for establishing places where anyone can enjoy the wonder of the night.”