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Thieves condemned after lights theft

PUBLISHED: 05:37 31 January 2003 | UPDATED: 16:13 24 February 2010

THIEVES have been condemned for wrecking a pioneering "green" lighting scheme designed to save lives at a death-trap junction.

The experimental project at Long Melford will now be abandoned after a set of solar panels and their batteries was stolen.

THIEVES have been condemned for wrecking a pioneering "green" lighting scheme designed to save lives at a death-trap junction.

The experimental project at Long Melford will now be abandoned after a set of solar panels and their batteries was stolen.

The 20ft-high rig of panels and wind generator was one of two installed last month on the Long Melford bypass at a total cost of £50,000.

They provided power to bollards intended to help cut the crash toll at the Bull Lane junction, which has been the scene of two fatal accidents in the past 18 months.

A furious road safety expert says the thieves have put lives at risk by taking the solar panels – part of the first environmentally-friendly system of its kind in Suffolk. The bollards will now be lit by mains power.

And plans to try out similar lighting elsewhere in Suffolk have been put on hold.

Last week the rigs at Long Melford were undergoing final tests by contractors working to iron out teething troubles which had put them out of action. But on Monday, Suffolk County Council staff who went to check on the work found one whole set of panels missing.

Rod Sore, the council's safety and signals manager, said: "At first we thought the contractors had taken it away but when we contacted them we realised it must have been stolen.

"These thieves have put people's lives at risk purely for selfish greed. It makes me very angry.

"We try to be 'green' and to save ratepayers' money and then this happens. The whole trial is now on hold.

"It is just too vulnerable. Unless the contractors can come up with something that is more thief-proof there is no way we can do it.

"As far as the Melford junction goes we will put in a mains electricity supply as quickly as possible. It will cost more money but there is nothing else we can do."

Anyone with information about the theft of the panel and its batteries, which are together worth £20,000, should call Pc Andy Fossey on 01284 774300 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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