Hertfordshire County Council part night lighting scheme a bright idea

Streetlight switch-off scheme a bright idea

Streetlight switch-off scheme a bright idea

First published in News Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author by , Web content editor

A review into the controversial part night lighting scheme, where areas of Hertfordshire are plunged into darkness over night, concluded that it had been a success.

Hertfordshire County Council overview and scrutiny committee met on Tuesday to review the project.

The decision to turn off the county’s streetlights between midnight and 6am was made in 2010, in order to save money and energy.

Since then it has attracted derision from residents across the county, concerned with public safety and a perceived increase in criminal activity.

Hertfordshire is one of the biggest lighting authorities in the country, consuming 42 million units of electricity, producing 23 tonnes of carbon, and running up an annual bill of £6 million in maintenance.

Peter Simpson, senior asset manager of the scheme, said: "Street lighting was 10 per cent of the council’s highways budget, and 40 per cent of that is the cost of energy.

"The cost of energy is only going to go up, and that is a major risk for any authority.

"Part night lighting has reduced this by 26 per cent, and it has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 15.3 per cent."

Although the project cost £3.75 million, it has so far saved 31 million units of electricity, which would have cost the council £1.8 million.

Carbon emissions, which will be taxed at £16 a tonne by 2014, have dropped to 17,000 tonnes.

The figures for road traffic collisions recorded between midnight to 6am, showed an increase in two divisions in Dacorum and Broxbourne, of 94 per cent and 230 per cent respectively.

However, only one of these claims was on a road affected by the scheme, and the committee concluded that there were no road safety concerns in connection with the scheme.

The committee then heard from Karl Edwards, from the East of England Ambulance Trust, and Simon Brown, from Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service.

Neither could find any evidence of part-night lighting impacting their response.

Michael Rhead from Hertfordshire Constabulary examined recorded crime in four, six-month periods, from September to February, spanning 2009 to 2012.

County-wide, the numbers have decreased year on year from 32,673 in 2009/10 to 25,526 in 2012/13.

Mr Rhead concluded by saying: "There is a fear of crime, but crime levels have not increased broadly.

"Hertfordshire remains one of the safest counties to live and Hertfordshire Police remains one of the top performing constabularies."

Suzanne Alford from the "Turn Our Street Lights Back On" Facebook group, which has 1,380 members, then gave a presentation.

She has collected a petition of more than 5,000 signatures, 500 from her housing estate in Borehamwood.

She said: "I am here to represent the human element. It was wholly undemocratic and dictatorial to not consult residents.

"It discriminates against teenagers coming back from nightclubs, and shift workers, a lot of whom are poorly paid and are now having to put up with being plunged into darkness.

"I like to go on late-night walks and this restricts my freedom of movement and is effectively a curfew.

"We are a 24/7 society, people have differing sleeping patterns and none of this was taken into consideration.

"We want a flexible response from the county council, and some light at the end of the tunnel to help people who are out at those times. Give us some hope."

By the end of the meeting, the committee was satisfied the part-night lighting scheme had saved money and was more environmentally friendly.

Councillors were also happy there had been no impact on road safety or criminality since the scheme’s inception.

A report containing recommendations for LED lighting to be investigated, and to allow more flexibility in which streets are included in the scheme, will be given to the cabinet member before the end of the month.

Comments (7)

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8:11pm Wed 2 Oct 13

crazyfrog says...

I think they have treated us Hertfordshire taxpayers like mushrooms !
They've kept us in the dark now there feeding us this bull poo!!!!
I think they have treated us Hertfordshire taxpayers like mushrooms ! They've kept us in the dark now there feeding us this bull poo!!!! crazyfrog
  • Score: 2

8:12pm Wed 2 Oct 13

crazyfrog says...

I think they have treated us Hertfordshire taxpayers like mushrooms !
They've kept us in the dark now there feeding us this bull poo!!!!
I think they have treated us Hertfordshire taxpayers like mushrooms ! They've kept us in the dark now there feeding us this bull poo!!!! crazyfrog
  • Score: 1

10:42pm Wed 2 Oct 13

WatfordAlex says...

Like most people I can see both sides of the argument on the scheme in urban areas. Irrespective of that, I can't see why the main out of town roads don't have more lights switched off (maybe every 2nd one). It's nuts lighting A roads and motorways up like footpath pitches when every vehicle on them is driving in a straight line and has headlights. Leave the street lights on at junctions, but turn the rest off. I've seen it done elsewhere in the country and it clearly saves a small fortune in electricity bills and reduces carbon emissions and light pollution.
Like most people I can see both sides of the argument on the scheme in urban areas. Irrespective of that, I can't see why the main out of town roads don't have more lights switched off (maybe every 2nd one). It's nuts lighting A roads and motorways up like footpath pitches when every vehicle on them is driving in a straight line and has headlights. Leave the street lights on at junctions, but turn the rest off. I've seen it done elsewhere in the country and it clearly saves a small fortune in electricity bills and reduces carbon emissions and light pollution. WatfordAlex
  • Score: 6

8:54am Thu 3 Oct 13

Cuetip says...

WatfordAlex wrote:
Like most people I can see both sides of the argument on the scheme in urban areas. Irrespective of that, I can't see why the main out of town roads don't have more lights switched off (maybe every 2nd one). It's nuts lighting A roads and motorways up like footpath pitches when every vehicle on them is driving in a straight line and has headlights. Leave the street lights on at junctions, but turn the rest off. I've seen it done elsewhere in the country and it clearly saves a small fortune in electricity bills and reduces carbon emissions and light pollution.
The views of people who are directly affected carried little weight. It was always just a crude idea with little sensitivity to shift workers who have to stumble along some very dangerous pavements. Preaching to people about light pollution does strike a hollow ring when they see incidences of public buildings fully lit when the workers have gone home.
[quote][p][bold]WatfordAlex[/bold] wrote: Like most people I can see both sides of the argument on the scheme in urban areas. Irrespective of that, I can't see why the main out of town roads don't have more lights switched off (maybe every 2nd one). It's nuts lighting A roads and motorways up like footpath pitches when every vehicle on them is driving in a straight line and has headlights. Leave the street lights on at junctions, but turn the rest off. I've seen it done elsewhere in the country and it clearly saves a small fortune in electricity bills and reduces carbon emissions and light pollution.[/p][/quote]The views of people who are directly affected carried little weight. It was always just a crude idea with little sensitivity to shift workers who have to stumble along some very dangerous pavements. Preaching to people about light pollution does strike a hollow ring when they see incidences of public buildings fully lit when the workers have gone home. Cuetip
  • Score: 8

11:17am Thu 3 Oct 13

TRT says...

I don''t like these LED lights you know. They are too white. They look like a car is already on the road. With these narrow streets with bends everywhere and parked to the last inch at night with everyone home, you really need that advanced warning of another car coming your way so you can wait at a gap and assess the situation. You have to pour much more energy into white lighting than yellow because you operate in the photopic region.
Smart lighting is the way forward. Agree with Watford Alex.
I don''t like these LED lights you know. They are too white. They look like a car is already on the road. With these narrow streets with bends everywhere and parked to the last inch at night with everyone home, you really need that advanced warning of another car coming your way so you can wait at a gap and assess the situation. You have to pour much more energy into white lighting than yellow because you operate in the photopic region. Smart lighting is the way forward. Agree with Watford Alex. TRT
  • Score: 1

2:32am Sun 20 Oct 13

AcrossThePond says...

To the petitioner complaining of the supposed restriction on her nighttime walks--why not use a headlamp or flashlight (torch)? You don't need continuous high-wattage street lighting to take a walk by night. She should consider taking a walk by moonlight and discovering the evolutionary miracle of night-adapted vision. Far more pleasant than the glare of streetlights and with the potential to actually see some stars.

And how about the rights of residents to be free from the light trespass of streetlighting in their homes as they sleep? The shift worker argument simply does not hold water. Streets, roads, highways do not need continuous lighting. Plenty do not have lights at all. Car headlights do a good job and the glare of streetlights too often reduce visibility rather than enhance it. And no one is stopping people leaving work and returning home at night from using motion detector lights at their own homes.
To the petitioner complaining of the supposed restriction on her nighttime walks--why not use a headlamp or flashlight (torch)? You don't need continuous high-wattage street lighting to take a walk by night. She should consider taking a walk by moonlight and discovering the evolutionary miracle of night-adapted vision. Far more pleasant than the glare of streetlights and with the potential to actually see some stars. And how about the rights of residents to be free from the light trespass of streetlighting in their homes as they sleep? The shift worker argument simply does not hold water. Streets, roads, highways do not need continuous lighting. Plenty do not have lights at all. Car headlights do a good job and the glare of streetlights too often reduce visibility rather than enhance it. And no one is stopping people leaving work and returning home at night from using motion detector lights at their own homes. AcrossThePond
  • Score: 0

2:39am Sun 20 Oct 13

AcrossThePond says...

To TRT-- the blue-rich white light of LEDs is the downside to the most efficient version of LEDs. However, they can be altered to a spectrum in a warmer range with a small loss in efficiency. Most people have a negative response to the harsh blue-white light and for good reason. This is the spectrum that has the most negative impact on human vision and health (same goes for wildlife). Blue-white light suppresses melatonin production which poses a host of health hazards. We have less of a response to longer wavelengths.

LEDs--when used properly--have great potential including dimming and switching on and off.

As Alex points out, lights can be used at junctions and other key points. Research in U.S. shows that lights at intersections and on/off ramps makes sense, but continuous lighting does not reduce accidents.
To TRT-- the blue-rich white light of LEDs is the downside to the most efficient version of LEDs. However, they can be altered to a spectrum in a warmer range with a small loss in efficiency. Most people have a negative response to the harsh blue-white light and for good reason. This is the spectrum that has the most negative impact on human vision and health (same goes for wildlife). Blue-white light suppresses melatonin production which poses a host of health hazards. We have less of a response to longer wavelengths. LEDs--when used properly--have great potential including dimming and switching on and off. As Alex points out, lights can be used at junctions and other key points. Research in U.S. shows that lights at intersections and on/off ramps makes sense, but continuous lighting does not reduce accidents. AcrossThePond
  • Score: 0

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