Switching off to save money and energy

DARK nights in Whitby could be about to get darker with plans being put forward to turn off street lights in a bid to save money and energy.

The move by North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) could see 30,000 street lights across the county being turned off, others dimmed by 50% and other streets and roads being only part lit.

They are recommendations being put to senior councillors at a meeting on Tuesday in a report by the Transport, Economy and Environment overview and scrutiny committee.

Members of the scrutiny have been looking at ways to reduce NYCC’s carbon footprint by 20% by 2015.

Failure to meet the government target could result in NYCC being fined as much as £130,000 per year.

The measures being put forward could save NYCC over £86,000 in carbon taxes by the year 2020.

It has been suggested that car parks, bus stations and industrial estates would be in darkness between midnight and 5am, minor traffic routes and residential areas could be without lighting and cycleways and footpaths would be unlit during hours when they are not being used.

The report says that high risk accident sites, roundabouts, pedestrian crossings and areas with lots of traffic and high crime wouldn’t be affected.

According to the report the street lighting reduction programme would be implemented over four years, a project board will be set up to prepare for implementation, consultations will take place with local parish and town councils and detailed plans of the proposed changes will be available on the NYCC website.

Steve Burrell, traffic management officer at North Yorkshire Police, said it was important a “robust method” is devised to monitor the areas where lighting is reduced.

He added: “Any increase in road accidents, crime or increased police (security) patrolling, would rapidly negate any carbon savings made.”

Coun Michael Heseltine who chaired the scrutiny said: “Footway lighting that you get in smaller towns and villages and country lanes like in the villages around and about Whitby is met by parish councils or town councils so that does not come into it but there is lighting on the more main roads within the bigger towns.”

NYCC is responsible for energy and maintenance of 48,000 street lights which are lit for 4200 hours per year, costing £1.5 million and using 10,500 tonnes of carbon dioxide.