STRONG backing has been given to the Yorkshire Dales National Park's bid to become an International Dark Sky Reserve.

A total of 71 Parish Councils and Parish Meetings in the National Park endorsed the Park Authority’s bid, which was sent to the International Dark Sky Association late last month.

These parishes represent 84 per cent of the population of the National Park and 81 per cent of its area.

Kevin Frea of the Authority said it has never before seen such a high level of community support across the National Park for a project.

He added: "Local people know how blessed they are to have a night sky largely free from light pollution.

"It is also clear that people see the business opportunities that a dark sky creates, particularly during the autumn and winter seasons."

It is proposed that the Dark Sky Reserve would be the whole National Park area, with the darkest ‘core’ comprising a large arc of land including the upper parts of Wensleydale, Swaledale, Mallerstang, Garsdale, Littondale and Wharfedale.

The core area would cover 30 per cent of the area of the National Park.