Street lights may be turned off at night

RESIDENTS in Essex could be left without street lights during the early hours of the morning under radical plans put forward by the county council.Street lights could be switched off between midnight and 5am in the face of concerns about light pollution and energy conservation.

RESIDENTS in Essex could be left without street lights during the early hours of the morning under radical plans put forward by the county council.

Street lights could be switched off between midnight and 5am in the face of concerns about light pollution and energy conservation.

The scheme will be piloted in Maldon and Uttlesford to begin with but could then be extended across Essex.

Currently, all street lights are switched on when it is dark regardless of where they are.


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Under the new plans, they would be turned off for the five-hour period in areas where this would be “appropriate”, the county council said.

Rodney Bass, cabinet member for Highways and Transportation, said: “As a council we take very seriously our responsibility to take local action on global environmental issues.

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“We encourage all Essex residents to think about the impact of their personal actions and we expect our staff to be equally responsible about saving energy. Now we are thinking more fundamentally about how our policies across the council affect the environment.

“We have reviewed our use of energy and recognise that whilst it will clearly be appropriate for all night lighting to remain in certain limited areas, it is wasteful for this practice to be generally applied across the county.

“Essex is a large and diverse county and it's sensible for us to work in ways that are flexible enough to recognise this against a broad presumption that switching off lights should be the norm.”

Paul Sztumpf, leader of the Labour group on Essex County Council, said: “We as a society and Essex in particular have to take global warming seriously.

“This is a step in the right direction but has to be balanced against public safety and any potential road accidents.

“I will be watching the pilot projects very carefully through the policy development group to ensure that a balance is struck.”

A spokesman for Essex Police said the county council had agreed to consult with the force on a case by case basis as to whether switching off lights would have an impact on crime and disorder or road safety.

He added: “Lighting can have a positive impact on reducing crime and reducing the fear of crime.

“There is a direct correlation between the lack of light and perceptions that a place is more dangerous.

“In the case of key locations, for example where there is a vibrant night time economy, and strategic roads, we and the council would want to ensure these are well lit.

“We will work together with Essex County Council to recognise areas potentially at risk from increased crime and fear of crime or from decreased road safety.”

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