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2/18/2007
UK Darkens Roads to Cut Pollution, Save Money
UK ushers in a dark age for roads and freeways as a means of saving money on electricity.

Stephen Ladyman
The UK Highways Agency plans this year to turn off or dim freeway lighting late at night as a means of saving on its electricity bill and reducing pollution. The agency will also cut back on installation of any new light fixtures and ask local authorities to shut off and dim lights on local roads at midnight.

"The Highways Agency is currently reviewing all its standards for the provision of road lighting on the strategic road network, which will mean less new lighting being installed in future," Transport Minister Stephen Ladyman wrote earlier this month in response to an inquiry in parliament. "The agency's review work also includes the development of an energy strategy for the management of existing lighting, which could include reduced lighting levels, and switching off lighting when roads are lightly trafficked."

Ladyman explained that the move was designed to generate "financial or environmental savings" that would be balanced against any increase in the number of collisions and crime that follow.

Road safety activist Paul Smith, founder of Safe Speed, called the move "Penny-pinching at the expense of safety."

Article Excerpt:
House of Commons
Daily Hansard: Written Answers, 8 Feb 2007


Street Lighting

Mr. Beith: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the potential for reduction of energy use in street lighting; and if he will make a statement. [118611]

Dr. Ladyman: I have been asked to reply.

Provision of street lighting in England, on local roads, is a matter for individual highway authorities, and the Department for Transport has made no formal assessment of the potential for energy savings in street lighting.

The Department endorses "Well-lit Highways", the code of practice on highway lighting management (December 2004, TSO) published by the UK Lighting Board. The Board, in conjunction with the Institution of Lighting Engineers, has also produced "Invest to Save", which provides guidance to local authorities considering adopting energy saving measures such as dimming or mid-night switching-off of lights. The effects of reducing lighting levels or turning lights off will vary from case to case. Any financial or environmental savings from reduced energy use would have to be balanced against potential adverse effects, for example on accidents or crime.

The Highways Agency is currently reviewing all its standards for the provision of road lighting on the strategic road network, which will mean less new lighting being installed in future. The agency's review work also includes the development of an energy strategy for the management of existing lighting, which could include reduced lighting levels, and switching off lighting when roads are lightly trafficked. Trials are expected to start in 2007.


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