Adjusting street lighting, for example through dimming schemes, could save hundreds of thousands of pounds each year while reducing the country’s light pollution, new research reveals.
Street lighting in England costs councils approximately £616m per year and can account for up to 30% of their carbon emissions.
A new report by the body, the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), entitled ‘Shedding Light – a survey of local authority approaches to lighting in England’ surveyed councils specifically on how they control light pollution.
Almost a third of councils surveyed were switching off street lights, typically between midnight and 5am, and almost half of respondents said they were involved in dimming street lights in their areas. The research found these dimming schemes were significantly more popular than switch off schemes with residents, with 68 per cent of respondents saying local communities had been very supportive.
The research also found that while eight in ten councils said they considered the impact of lighting on the open countryside when considering lighting on building developments or highways, over a third have no policy in place to help them control light pollution.
As a result of the research, and the potential to reduce carbon emissions, lighting pollution and costs, CPRE has called for councils to do more to control lighting in their areas. The report makes nine recommendations including: preserving dark skies by having a presumption against new lighting in existing dark areas; allocating lighting zones to help determine where streetlights should and should not go; and preventing inappropriate and badly designed lighting of development that masks views of the night sky.
Emma Marrington, CPRE dark skies campaigner, said:
‘We often hear concerns that changing street lighting can impact on public safety but our research revealed no evidence to support this. We’re not advocating changes where they’re not appropriate, but why shine bright lights on residential streets, quiet roads and open countryside throughout the night when it’s not needed?
‘Genuine dark starry nights are becoming harder and harder to find which is why councils should take action to control it now. Light pollution blurs the distinction between town and country, ruins the countryside’s tranquil character and denies us the experience of a truly starry sky.’