The nighttime skies over the Broads could be awarded special protection if an authority decides to bid for the status.

The Broads Authority is considering applying for Dark Sky Status from the International Dark Skies Association (IDSA), which works to protect night skies and combat light pollution.

Volunteer-led tests - completed between last October and March - across the entire Broads area have revealed it has 'intrinsically dark skies', a Broads Authority report says, with Hickling Broad and Heigham Holmes among the darkest areas.

To be considered by the IDSA, dark skies must measure 20 magnitudes per square arcsecond - a test that 387 readings in the Broads met or surpassed. Just 53 fell short.

Lorna Marsh, head of communications at the authority, said: 'Dark Sky Status would be fantastic of course but whether or not we achieve this, the results of the survey and darkness of the Broads' skies demonstrate why this is something we are keen to promote and protect.

'We hope it will help us continue to protect some of the region's most beautiful areas from light pollution.'

If a future application is successful, the Broads would either be classed as a dark sky community, park or reserve - the first to be registered with the IDSA in the region.

The findings will help the authority battle light pollution and will be included in its emerging Broads Local Plan.

In Great Ellingham, a bid for homes was last year halted because of its high rating for darkness on the Sky Quality Survey scale and its status as a Milky Way Dark Sky Discovery Site.

At a Broads Authority planning committee meeting yesterday, members agreed a timeline for the local plan, which should be formally adopted in early 2018.

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