Suffolk and Essex: CPRE backs street light switch-off

A RURAL campaign group has backed controversial moves in Suffolk and Essex to switch off street lights.

Civic chiefs in Suffolk hope to save around �400,000 after opting to dim or turn off lights during off-peak times, such as the early hours of the morning. Their counterparts in Essex have decided to switch off 18,000 of their 220,000 street lights.

But the cost-cutting moves have attracted criticism from road safety campaigners, who claim it could put motorists, cyclists and pedestrians at increased risk.

Yet the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) backed the turning off of street lights. It said a CPRE survey carried out earlier this year found 83% of respondents were affected by light pollution.

Emma Marrington, rural policy campaigner for CPRE, said: “A great deal of street lighting across the UK is unnecessary, excessive or poorly targeted.


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“Councils are completely correct to look at where lighting can be dimmed, replaced with better modern fittings, or turned off completely.

“Light pollution blurs the distinction between town and countryside and denies people the experience of a dark, starry sky. It can disrupt wildlife and badly affect people’s sleeping patterns.

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Last month road expert Nick Gkikas said councils’ decisions on street lighting were rushed and that councillors had not realised what was at stake. His report also revealed 71% of motorists in East Anglia thought switching off essential street lighting was an “appalling” and “dangerous” idea.

Ms Marrington added: “This move may have been driven by financial cut backs, but it is certainly the right choice if we are to reduce light pollution and energy consumption.

“Of course, any changes to lighting should be in full consultation with local residents and the police to ensure that the proposals are practical. Ultimately, smarter lighting will save councils money, cut unnecessary light pollution and uce their carbon footprint.“

Guy McGregor, Suffolk County Council’s portfolio holder for roads, transport and planning, said lights would only be turned off or dimmed where it made sense on safety grounds.

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