Suffolk could turn off street lights

THOUSANDS of street lights across Suffolk may be turned off in a bid to save money and cut carbon emissions, it has emerged.

Simon Tomlinson

THOUSANDS of street lights across Suffolk may be turned off in a bid to save money and cut carbon emissions, it has emerged.

Suffolk County Council is considering plans to reduce the number of its lights by up to 50% as it strives to become one of the greenest counties in the UK.

Power from its 54,000 street lights costs the county council an estimated �450,000 each year - a quarter of its total energy budget.

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It is hoped a radical overhaul of the network would bring about a 40% drop in consumption.

The remaining lights would be fitted with energy-saving bulbs and some may be switched off for periods overnight.

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Concerns about an increase in crime have been played down by county bosses who point to similar schemes in other areas of the country which have seen a reduction in offences.

Last night, the county's Roads and Transport Scrutiny Committee gave the go-ahead for a consultation to take place with various groups including the police, district councils and environmental campaigners.

Mark Bee, chairman of the Roads and Transport Scrutiny Committee, said: “We have got to look at this for two reasons - for the financial saving and for the environmental impact.”

Mr Bee, a Conservative county councillor for Beccles, said there was evidence to suggest incidents crime and anti-social could even fall under the scheme.

He said: “Lighting whole stretches of roads does not necessarily make them safer. Other parts of the country have shown that crime has decreased. Aspects of anti-social behaviour can occur where there is light.

“Clearly public safety is important, but it may be that street lighting is giving a false sense of security. If there were no lights, people may decide to go in a group or take a taxi home, rather than walking alone.”

Mr Bee said the current day glow bulbs, often be seen for miles around, could be replaced with low-intensity white lights which focus the beams more efficiently.

Some lights may also be timed to go off for periods overnight as was done in previous decades, he said.

Suffolk County Council maintains 54,000 of its own street lights, 8,800 lighted signs and bollards, plus 11,300 lights under contract from other organisations at a cost of �2.4million a year.

According to Suffolk's Community Strategy 2008-2028, the council wants Suffolk to be recognised for “its outstanding environment and quality of life for all” by 2028.

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