So did you remember to turn your clocks back last weekend? The autumnal change will mean we’re feeling the dark even earlier, but could plans by your local council mean our lamp-lit streets are short-lived?
A report in The Telegraph this weekend explored how local councils are looking into either dimming, or turning out, street and road lights in a bid to save energy.
Around three quarters of the 134 councils who responded to The Telegraph’s survey had switched off or dimmed some lights or had plans to.
This is a challenging issue if you, like me, want to support initiatives to reduce our energy output but on the other hand, need to ensure our safety is not put at risk.
Walking home in the dark
I went through a stage of walking a longer route home because my local road was badly lit. On some occasions I would walk with a torch but was worried it might unnerve fellow pedestrians.
I was therefore delighted when I spotted my local council giving our local street lights a make-over. I assume they must have done something more significant than simply replacing the bulbs, as the entire lighting unit was replaced along the entire road.
I took the time to complete my local council’s online survey to provide feedback on the update – after whinging about my detour I thought I should acknowledge the work and say thanks.
Road accidents after dark
The report says 3,080 miles of motorways and trunk roads in England are now completely unlit and 47 miles of motorway now have no lights between midnight and 5am. The Highways Agency has today responded to the article to clarify that the total length of unlit motorways is fewer than 100 miles in total (98.4 miles).
The Telegraph asked the AA’s head of roads policy, Paul Watters, for his views:
‘We know that most accidents happen in the dark… it may save money in terms of energy but then you have to look at the cost in terms of security, safety and accidents, it may actually be more. We have even heard that some milkmen are having more trips and falls, so it has had some implications you might not think about.’
And the Highways Agency argues:
‘Evidence so far, from the first six sites where lighting was switched off between midnight and 5am, indicates that switching off the lights between midnight and 5am on these carefully selected sections of motorway hasn’t had an adverse impact on safety. Analysis also suggests no impact on traffic volumes or speed.’
Council cutbacks and street lights
I’m torn on this one really – I appreciate my local area being lit up for the safety of the community, but can see the appeal to councils if there are potential savings to be made.
Living in a block of flats, we all contribute towards our communal electricity bill for lighting outside. Funnily enough our communal electricity is more expensive than the cost of energy for our own flat, despite the fact the former is split five ways. Nevertheless, good lighting around the property is important to me, so it’s a cost I’m willing to pay.
So how do you balance energy conservation with safety? Would you be happy to see your local council dimming the lights or even turning them out completely? Are there other options councils should be looking into?