Street light switch-off saves council £300,000
By The Bristol Post | Tuesday, November 06, 2012, 05:00
SWITCHING off street lights across North Somerset has saved North Somerset Council more than £300,000 in energy costs in 18 months.
The authority, faced with saving £47 million from its budgets in four years, starting switching off lights between midnight and 5am across the district in April 2011.
The switch-off is being carried out in three phases following successful trials in a number of areas across the district.
The council, which is responsible for 20,000 street lights, has also been replacing a number of its street lighting columns across the district, replacing the old lamps with energy efficient ones that can be dimmed or switched off by remote control.
A number of illuminated traffic bollards have also been switched off at night and lights at zebra crossings and traffic-sign fluorescent lamps fitted with low-energy bulbs to drive down costs even further.
So far the switch-off programme – which will see 18,600 lights turned off by 2014 – has saved the authority £320,000 in energy costs.
Initially, authority purse-holders estimated the switch-off would save around £115,000 a year.
North Somerset Council executive member for highways Elfan Ap Rees said: "I am not only pleased at the savings in energy costs but also that the council is continually reducing its carbon footprint.
"The savings which have already been made are well over our initial targets.
"However the programme is not finished yet and these savings will increase as more and more lights get switched off."
Residents in some areas had raised concerns that plunging areas of the district into darkness could make them more dangerous.
In Clevedon, residents launched a campaign calling for the lights along Kenn Road to be switched back on following the death of local soldier Edward Heal.
Edward, 19, had been enjoying a night out with friends at the Bristol Inn pub on Christmas Eve last year when he went to walk home along Kenn Road, Clevedon.
Edward, a tank gunner, who had been training for a tour of duty in Afghanistan, was lying in the middle of Kenn Road when he was hit by a car.
The inquest heard that Edward would have been the equivalent of nearly three times the legal drink drive limit when he was struck by the car.
Mystery still surrounds why Edward, who was walking home alone, had come to rest in the road.
Although the street lights had been switched off, assistant deputy coroner, Terence Moore, said that even if the street had been illuminated, there would have been the same set of circumstances surrounding the accident.
The inquest was also told that of the 11 fatal accidents since 2007 in the Avon and Somerset area which involved people lying in the road, ten had occurred while streets lights were on.
Family and friends of Edward still maintain that if the street lights had been on, he may have survived.
The council says it gives careful consideration before any decision to switch off street lights is made and various organisations, including the emergency services, are consulted.
Street lights are not turned off in any areas where road safety or crime is an issue, or parts of town centres where there is a lot of activity or a strong night-time economy, anywhere there is CCTV, where there are sheltered houses or other residences for vulnerable people, or in areas where emergency services are based, for example hospitals, police, ambulance or fire stations.