30 Dec 2016

Dark sky park for Christchurch red zone?

9:57 am on 30 December 2016
Christchurch Red Zone

The latest idea for Christchurch's residential red zone would make it a star-gazer's paradise. Photo: Supplied / Chistchurch Dilemmas

A group wants Christchurch's earthquake-damaged red zone land to be turned into a dark sky park.

The park would have special golden-coloured lighting to minimise glare, with lights aimed at the ground.

Professor Emeritus of Astronomy at Canterbury University John Hearnshaw is part of the group advocating for the park.

Mr Hearnshaw said Christchurch had a unique opportunity. A dark-sky park could be used to view stars and encourage nocturnal species like morepork owls and kiwi.

The special lighting would be safer and cheaper to run than standard lighting, he said.

Dark sky places are designed to preserve dark places, usually for stargazing and to protect wildlife.

Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park and the Mackenzie Basin make up the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve, which minimises light pollution for the nearby Mt John Observatory.

Mr Hearnshaw said a dark sky park would fit with most of the other projects put forward for the red zone.

Red zone ideas abound

The Avon-Otakaro Forest Park group want to create a "ribbon of green" from the edge of the city centre to New Brighton.

The government and the Christchurch City Council asked joint recovery agency Regenerate Christchurch to consider the feasibility of turning part of the damaged land into an open water course. Greater Christchurch Regeneration Minister Gerry Brownlee previously promoted this idea.

The Water for Life Trust wants to build a version of Britain's award-winning Eden Project eco-tourist attraction.

Greening the Red Zone wants a native forest and wetlands created in the empty space.

Regenerate Christchurch said in September it would split the red zone planning into three parts. It would tackle a regeneration plan for the smallest area of the corridor, from Oxford Terrace to Stanmore Road, first.

Most community proposals concerned the second, larger area, stretching from Stanmore Road to just before Bexley, Regenerate Christchurch chief executive Ivan Lafeta said earlier.

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