Street lamps turned off to save money

A Mendip village is one of 14 communities which will be trying to cut the amount of light pollution.

Leigh-on-Mendip will be part of a Somerset County Council trial to cut the number of street lamps and the hours they are lit.

Apart from turning the lights off in the 14 villages between midnight and 5.30am there will be other changes in different parts of the county.

This will include some lamps being removed and some dimmed.

The idea behind the scheme is to cut the amount of light pollution produced and energy consumed.

The first three years of the plan are expected to save the council 123,000 in energy costs and 8,300 in carbon tax payments, with continued annual savings for the lighting budget.

Cabinet member Harvey Siggs said: “The advances in lighting technology and the funding available are making this a worthwhile exercise in improving Somerset’s night skies and reducing the council’s energy costs.

“There will be consultation everywhere it is proposed to turn off street lamps, and I’m sure people in Somerset will welcome the choice of how their streets are lit, and the opportunity to contribute to cash savings and darker skies.”

The police have not raised concerns about crime or safety in the areas volunteering, which include many on Exmoor, enhancing the National Park’s stargazing experience – the first place in Europe to be designated a Dark Sky Reserve.

There will be further opportunities for towns and villages to join the part-night lighting trial over the next three years with a budget of 750,000 to pay for the changes.

In villages with only one or two street lamps the option to remove them will be presented to the community when they are due for replacement.

Meanwhile, residential developments across the county are already benefiting from advances in light emitting diode technology (LED), which will mean 60 per cent less spent on energy for lighting compared to existing sodium lamps.

New streets and areas that need extra lighting or replacement lamps are being fitted with LEDs. These combine lower maintenance and running costs with long life expectancy and a purer, whiter light.

For safety, no A or B class roads will have lamps switched off during the darkest hours although eight stretches have been selected for dimming to half the usual brightness.

The funding for the three year project has been provided by the Regional Improvement and Efficiency Partnership (500,000), Somerset County Council’s lighting budget (200,000) and 75,000 received within the Council’s Performance Reward Grant from Government.

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