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Negative reviews force Dean Hotel to turn the lights off earlier
The Dean Hotel has promised to turn its powerful exterior lights off earlier at night, but critics say the move doesn’t go far enough.
One of Cork city's most distinctive looking hotels has agreed to switch off its powerful beams of light, which penetrate the night sky, following a targeted online campaign. The campaign resulted in scores of negative reviews, highlighting the impact of the lights.
Where a local environmental group has been frustrated in its dealings with The Dean Hotel, an online campaign which grew out of a Reddit thread proved more successful as management at The Dean sat up and took notice of the flood of negative reviews.
In response, The Dean has promised to “turn these lights off at midnight each night to minimise their impact.”
In a statement issued to Tripe + Drisheen, a spokeswoman for The Dean said it “became apparent last weekend that a group of people were unhappy with the lights that shine up from The Dean.”
“It was never our intention to cause upset within our community, and will endeavour to work towards a solution as soon as possible.”
However, Cork Environmental Forum (CEF), which has been in contact with The Dean since the summer of 2021 in regard to the potential impact of light pollution from the beams, said the midnight switch off does not go far enough.
“While the 12 o’clock switch off is welcome, The Dean has been notified about our concerns with the lighting going back years, and this isn’t a long-term remedy,” Bernie Connolly, a development coordinator with CEF said.
Ms Connolly said CEF recommended to The Dean, which opened in the city in 2020, to put shades on the lights or change the direction of the lights, adding that the way the lights have been installed is a design flaw.
Local resident Thorsten Ohlow said he welcomed The Dean’s move. Mr Ohlow, who lives across the road from the hotel on St Patrick’s Terrace, highlighted The Dean’s sustainability page in which Press Up, the Dublin-based hospitality group which owns The Dean Hotel, outlines its commitment to “using low energy lightbulbs” as well as “its responsibility to respect the environment”.
However, Mr Ohlow said that “pointless lights are the equivalent to idling and should be penalised,” adding that the entire area around Penrose Dock, next to where the The Dean is located, is needlessly lit up at night.
No such thing as bad publicity?
While many of the reviews, which were penned in the past week, are no longer prominently displayed, some of them can still be found online. Their focus is singular: “the big stupid light outside” the hotel, often compared to the Bat-Signal used to summon Batman.
Tripe + Drisheen previously reported on The Dean’s lights which locals have described as a “nuisance.”
In our previous story, Shane Fitzpatrick, The Dean general manager, told T+D that the only complaints about the lights the hotel received were from environmental groups.
At the time Mr Fitzpatrick added that he was willing to talk to anyone who had concerns.
However, Oliver Moran, a local Green Party Councillor, said that he has been contacted by a “regular stream of residents” regarding the lighting from The Dean Hotel.
“The kind of issues residents are raising are about the intrusiveness of it across the north side, as well as broader problems of light pollution. It's low level in terms of how it affects people but it's a nuisance for those affected and there's a feeling that it isn't being addressed by the hotel.”
Mr Moran said he has been in contact with hotel management from The Dean as well as city council officials about residents’ concerns.
“The hotel committed last year to addressing the issue in response to complaints. If it cannot be resolved now then I think it would be best just to switch it off for all of these reasons," Cllr Moran said.
“Can ye just turn off this monstrosity for everyone’s sake?”
The ‘light campaign’ grew out of a review of The Dean by Luke Pottinger, who describes himself as a “casual stargazer.”
Mr Pottinger wrote in his review of the hotel, posted on Google, that he could no longer see shooting stars since The Dean began “blasting their light in the sky.”
Mr Pottinger’s review, which he subsequently posted on Reddit Cork, gelled with many other online commentators who were similarly annoyed by the “intrusive” lights which light up the city skyline.
From his professional experience in digital marketing, Mr Pottinger wrote that The Dean were more likely to act if people banded together to leave reviews highlighting the lighting issue rather than by privately contacting the hotel.
He wasn’t wrong. Mr Pottinger said that the hotel contacted him as the reviews poured in and the campaign took off with an offer to meet.
While it wasn’t possible for Mr Pottinger to meet in person, The Dean Hotel conveyed to him that they would turn the lights off at 12am, which Mr Pottinger in turn conveyed to the Reddit community.
“To me this was a good compromise but for some it still wasn't. I agreed to this solution as it is still a significant improvement on the current situation,” Mr Pottinger told T+D, adding that he’s not looking to steal the limelight on this issue.
While the towers of light from The Dean are visible throughout the city centre during the hours of darkness, it’s still not clear how strong the lighting is.
Public fixture lighting should be no more than 3,000 Kelvins, according to the International Dark-Sky Association. The Kelvin scale is a measure of the colour temperature of lights. T+D asked the Dean in 2022 and again for this article how many Kelvins the sky lights are, but we didn’t get an answer.
Artificial Light At Night, or ALAN for short, affects creatures great and small from bird life to nocturnal species like bats, moths and hedgehogs, all of which are found in Cork city.
Major population declines in species of moths and bats has also been linked to light pollution; one-third of flying insects attracted to artificial lights die.
T+D also asked The Dean if they requested to have the slew of negative reviews stemming from the Reddit campaign removed from Google, but we were told to refer to the brief statement they issued.
The Dean have not given a fixed date as to when the midnight switch off will commence, other than saying “as soon as possible”.
Doubtless there will be many star gazers across Cork city looking up at the midnight sky to see if it is a little less artificially lit up.