Dozens of readers have been contacting the Visiter asking why they can see a purple glow in the night sky every night.

Lots of you have sent us photos of the strange phenomenon, from places such as Southport , Scarisbrick and Ormskirk.

But now the reason behind the purple / pink looking light can be revealed.

It all comes down to – TOMATOES.

Tomato plant Flavourfresh Salads, in Scarisbrick, has for the past year been using LED lights to help aid the growth of its award winning tomatoes. The lights, which are a mixture of blue and red, are used in the greenhouses and when combined appear bright purple.

When on, they can be seen for miles with people claiming to have seen the pink colour in the sky from Southport, Formby, Ormskirk and Liverpool.

However, although the lights are turned on every night – there will only be certain times people will actually be able to see the sky change colour from a distance. Andy Liggat, nursery manager, at Flavourfresh told the Visiter: “The reason you get the beautiful coloured sky is because of the weather.

“If you get a nice clear night you won’t see it but if it is misty, raining or foggy the LED lights will shine on the cloud and that is what gives it that glow.

Image: Sky Color At Night In Southport

Image: Greenhouse in Southport

“If you woke up at 5am and it was a nice clear morning you may see a tint of it but if you woke up to fog and looked, you would be like wow.”

The lights were installed by Tarleton -based Eco Electrical & Building Services.

Inside the six and a half acre site there are 100,000 plants which on average produce 420 tonnes of tomatoes a year. The huge greenhouses have blackout screens on its windows, which are computerised to close at night which is when the LED lights come on. There are gaps of around a foot, left in the blackout screens meaning the lights can shine through and subsequently up into the sky.

But there is a reason why people may see a pink skyline more often in the coming months.

Numerous Visiter readers have spoken to us about the strange lights in the sky. Malcolm Herbert said: “Driving home to St Helens at 10.30pm, we observed a spectacular purple / red sky in the general direction of Birkdale and Ainsdale. It lasted for about 10 minutes before the rain clouds obscured it from our view.

“We understand from previous sightings that the cause is unusually high pressure.”

Andy said: “The LED lights elongate the day light in the greenhouses for the tomatoes.

“So as the nights get darker earlier we turn the lights on earlier.

“We are basically giving the tomatoes 18 hours of day light and kidding them in effect to thinking it is daylight.”

The company, which produces the speciality crop for Asda and M&S, has been in operation since the mid 1970s and was the fifth in the country to trial LED lights.

Read More: THE URBAN JUNGLE: How LED’s Can Help In #going Green

In the greenhouses, which average at around 75 degrees Fahrenheit, there are around 3,000 LED lights which have replaced the previous high pressure sodium lights.

Andy said the change to the LED lighting is in keeping with the demands from the public and supermarkets.

He said: “If you don’t have light, you can’t grow tomatoes.

“In winter you don’t have the necessary sunlight so the LED lights make it possible to grow the tomatoes all year round.”

Greenhouse in Southport - Top View

 

LED Strip Lights Used in Southport Greenhouses

 

Flavourfresh, which has 11 full time staff and 25 seasonal staff, produces its own electricity on site and has a reservoir at the back of its site for water.

There are also a number of man made bee hives in the greenhouses that pollinate the tomatoes and biocontrollers are used to rid the plants of harmful insects – rather than the use of chemicals on the plants.

Andy said there have been no negative comments about the bright pink sky and he has invited neighbours close to the factory to look around.

He said: “I am used to it now but I agree that it is quite a stunning sight to see in the sky.

“People are quite surprised when they come in and see what it is like here.

“We see so many comments about ‘what the pink in the sky is’ some thinking it is chemicals, but it isn’t.

“Only 20 percent of tomatoes in stores are British the rest are imported so what we are actually doing here, with the lights and how we operate is keeping people in jobs and it means less has to be imported.”

 

Published By: KATE MCMULLIN

Date: 24/09/17

Main Article: Revealed – why sky turns purple every night over Southport

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