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Street lighting could save £400,000 in North Yorkshire


2:51pm 5th July 2011

An ambitious plan to save £400,000 on energy costs and cut nearly 2000 tonnes of carbon emissions into the atmosphere has been put forward by North Yorkshire County Council.

Members of the Council’s Executive voted in favour of introducing a system which would allow street lights to be turned off during part of the night.  But they have stressed that no lights will be affected in areas where road safety, crime, or anti-social behaviour is an issue.

And they have pledged that full consultations will be carried out with the local communities involved before any final decisions are taken.

The four year plan, drawn up by a working group of the Transport, Economy and Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee, is designed to reduce North Yorkshire’s £1.7million street lighting and signing energy bill by almost £400,000.

The plan will also see a 1,900 tonne (20%) reduction in North Yorkshire’s street lighting carbon footprint by the end of 2015.

A full review of all 48,000 County Council-owned street lights will now be undertaken.  Lights which are no longer required will be removed, and the rest will be assessed to determine the appropriateness of switching them off for part of the night.

The technology required to switch street lights off for part of the night is relatively cheap. If lights are switched off between midnight and 5am, the subsequent savings will pay for the installation costs within 3 years.

The project could eventually see almost two thirds of North Yorkshire County Council’s street lights switched off for part of the night when road use is at a minimum. This approach would be considered for car parks, bus stations, industrial estates, cycle routes and footpaths, as well as in residential areas and minor roads.

The Council recognises that there may be public concerns about switching off street lights late at night and is committed to a full engagement with the local communities. Before any changes are made to the street lights, every potential site will be thoroughly assessed and a full consultation will be carried out, involving the local county councilor, the parish council, the emergency services, and the County Council’s road safety team.

County Councillor Gareth Dadd, Executive Member for Highways and Planning Services, pledged that the consultation process will be central to the delivery of any street lighting savings.

“It is important that the police and the local parish or town councils are involved in the assessment process to ensure that only non-essential street lights are removed or switched off for part of the night.”

County Councillor Michael Heseltine, the chairman of the working group, stressed that the proposal does not include turning off every light.

“A risk based approach will be implemented and street lights in strategic positions such as roundabouts, junctions, crossings and in areas where crime or antisocial behaviour is an issue, will be unaffected.”

The Executive agreed that the first area to undergo Part Night switching would be the A63 Selby Bypass, which - due to its length and the number of street lights - constitutes 2% of North Yorkshire County Council’s street lighting energy bill.  Switching off half of the street lights between midnight and 5am is likely to save the County Council £14,000 per year in this one location alone. This scheme is likely to be completed later this year.

Similar schemes have been introduced by councils in other parts of the UK, including  Leicestershire, Gloucestershire, Essex and Buckinghamshire.

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