Suffolk's street light project - doing things differently can be good sometimes.
|Image from Sheffield Tiger|
The system doesn't depend on a crude time switch but a s "intelligent" remote control system enabling the Council to change the times the lights go off for example at Christmas and New Year as well as letting the street lights report them selves as faulty. Some lights can be dimmed or continue to be left on all night and this can be reprogrammed centrally.
Explaining the change Suffolk County Council say:
By 2025, Suffolk aims to achieve a 60% reduction in CO2. Introducing the system has the potential to deliver significant street lighting energy savings and a CO2 reduction by April 2013. Implementing the system will also save the council at least £550,000 per year in energy costs.This hasn't gone down too well with some people. Ipswich Tory blogger Gavin Maclure recently wrote:
I pay hundreds of pounds a year in council tax and the Labour council and socialist bureaucrats can't even deliver the basics. It's as if we live in the third world. In fact, that is what the green zealots at the council want as I can reveal the bureaucrats at Ipswich Borough Council tonight told councillors in a closed meeting that the reasons for switching the street lights off at midnight is nothing to do with saving money but instead to meet central government Co2 reduction targets to stop non-existent anthropogenic global warming.In actual fact the street light scheme has been introduced by the Conservative dominated County Council and the Labour Ipswich Borough council were just buying into the service the County are offering for the relatively small number of street lights they control.
Street lights are a bit of a metaphor for the sometimes confusing responsibilities of different councils. If you look at the map of Stradbroke below you can see what is happening to street lights in the village:
|Click on the image to make it larger|
KEY: Black = Switch Off
Orange = Dim
Yellow = On all Night
Green = owned by others
Daily Mail show. Now the Daily Mail isn't exactly known for its objective and evidence driven approach and just takes it as obvious that street lights reduce crime. However academic researchers are far from sure this is the case.
There is even a whole website dedicated to evidence showing lighting does not deter crime
But "light pollution" is also an issue making it difficult to see the sky and stars and even for people to sleep properly. One of the things I really like about living in the countryside is being able to see the stars at night and with the lights turned off you can really see them!
So personally I think this is a good idea and that the County Council should be applauded for introducing an innovative system. Will we do it in Stradbroke? Not sure yet but if we don't there will almost certainly need to be an increase in Council Tax in 2013. Sometimes "doing things differently" can be a good thing!
Suffolk County Council Street Lighting Website
Roll out details and Maps for each area