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Astronomer calls on help of First Minister

The park is home to the only publicly accessible, research-grade observatory within a Gold Tier Dark Sky Park in the world.

The Scottish Dark Sky Observatory estimates that it will attract 100,000 visitors each year within five years of being established.

Professor John Brown is the Astronomer Royal for Scotland and he is asking First Minister Alex Salmond to help ensure wind farms are not allowed near the Dark Sky Park:

"Installing any large structures that require illumination would be like putting a factory in Glen Coe.

"Our First Minister was instrumental in helping to secure funding for the observatory and he opened it with much passion and aplomb in October last, praising Scotland for leading the world with this fine public and educational facility.

"But Mr Salmond is also an ardent advocate of wind farms and so faces a dilemma.

"I, for one, would call upon him now to prove his sincere interest in our wild lands and skies by ensuring wind farms and other dark sky contaminants are excluded from the entire Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park.

"This would lay down a benchmark for future decisions on all similar wild land sites where wind farms are wholly inappropriate."

– Professor John Brown, Astronomer Royal for Scotland

To find out more about the Scottish Dark Sky Observatory click here.

Campaigners say Dark Sky Park is under threat

The Scottish Dark Sky Observatory based in Galloway Credit: Scottish Dark Sky Observatory

Campaigners are warning that a world famous Dark Sky Park in the south of Scotland is under threat from wind turbine applications.

The Astronomer Royal for Scotland, the John Muir Trust and the Scottish Wild Land Group have written an open letter to the the Scottish Government asking it to rule out the construction of windfarms in the vicinity of the Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park.

Mark Gibson, chairman of the board of trustees of the Scottish Dark Sky Observatory says there are nine separate sets of proposals for turbines within sight of the park's observatory.

These include plans from energy companies such as E.ON and RWE npower renewables.

Mr Gibson said that while some planning applications had been rejected, there are fears that if even just one is approved, it could open the door for further development.

Ministry of Defence and Aviation Authority safety requirements mean that wind turbines must be illuminated by infra-red light and, in some areas used regularly for training or search and rescue, visible light illumination may also be required.

Turbines near the park could fall into the latter category, and would affect both the ability of astronomers to use sensitive equipment, and the current visibility of stars, galaxies, comets and northern lights.


A write good day out in Cumbria

An attraction in Cumbria has come out top in an online poll for the country's quirkiest tourist experiences.

The Cumberland Pencil Museum in Keswick has won the questionable title of "oddest day out" - beating a Scottish nudist beach and space centre to the top spot.

The museum also boasts the world's biggest pencil - at a staggering eight metres long.

Dawn Walker is Deputy Manager at the Cumberland Pencil Museum, and is delighted with results:

Tourism boost for south-west Scotland

Scottish Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing is visiting a holiday park in the south-west of Scotland to find out how busy the region has been this summer.

Loch Ken Holiday Park, near Castle Douglas, has seen an increase in visitor numbers with the help of recent investment.

The area has enjoyed a busier year than usual with visitors coming from both sides of the Border as well as mainland Europe.

A national tourism report has shown a 21% rise in visitors to outdoor attractions across south-west Scotland.


Scottish Tourism Minister in south-west Scotland

Fergus Ewing will hear about Credit: ITV News Border

The Scottish Tourism Minister will be in Galloway later (27th August) to hear about initiatives to attract visitors to the area.

Fergus Ewing will visit the Loch Ken Holiday Park near Castle Douglas to discover how it has fared this summer and about plans for the 2014 season.

Full Report: Borders tourism on a summer high

As we head into the bank holiday weekend, it looks as if it has been a pretty good summer for tourism across the region, with businesses north and south of the border confident visitor numbers will be well up on last year.

It seems innovation is the key to success and Andy Burn went to see a high-flying attraction in South West Scotland.

Watch his full report below.

Tourism boost from the hot weather?

Tourism officials across the region say it is too early to assess the impact of this summer's record hot weather.

Some attractions are reporting an increase in visitor numbers, but it will be next month before exact figures are known.

A number of caravan sites across the south of Scotland said that the heatwave in July helped them secure the highest visitors numbers for seven years.

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