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UK Turns Off Road Lights To Cut Emissions

Just when you thought the Warmers couldn’t top themselves, we have this from the UK’s Daily Mail:

Fears accident rates could rise as motorway lights are switched off at midnight to cut pollution

By James Tozer
18th July 2010

Motorway lights are being switched off at midnight across the country in a move critics warn could compromise safety.

Seven stretches are now plunged into darkness until 5am every night in a bid to cut carbon emissions and reduce light pollution.

The Highways Agency, which manages England’s motorway network, says it has picked areas with low levels of overnight traffic and good safety records.

However they admit there could be a slight increase in accident rates as a result, and there are fears that more roads will see black-outs as councils across the country try to save money.

The latest length of carriageway where the lights are being turned off is an eight-mile stretch of the M6 in Lancashire.

From this Wednesday, street lights between junction 27 at Standish, near Wigan, and junction 29 at Lostock Hall will go dark at midnight, switching on again at 5am.

Similar nightly switch-offs already take place at six other locations including the M4 near Bristol and the M5 near Exeter, with others likely to follow.

The Highways Agency says the move reduces carbon emissions as well as reducing the glare for people living near motorways.

Andy Withington, the area performance manager for south Lancashire, said: ‘We are looking for ways to reduce the carbon footprint of operating the motorway network and this is one step in that direction.

‘This is the seventh site in England and we expect it to work as successfully as everywhere else – achieving up to a 40 percent saving in carbon emissions and energy use as well as giving local communities reduced light pollution of the night sky.’

Junctions themselves will continue to be lit as normal, and the lights can be turned on manually again if required, for example to tackle a serious accident.

According to the Highways Agency, while the switch-off fractionally cuts its £15 million [$24million]-a-year electricity bill, it won’t actually save it money in the short-term as new equipment is needed to enable the lights to be controlled from a regional command centre.

It says the likely increase in the accident rate is so tiny that it equates to around one additional accident involving an injury every 25 years or even more at each location.

The initiative has been welcomed by environment campaigners as well as by groups which say unnecessary lighting is disfiguring the countryside.

However a report last year found that street lighting across all types of road reduced the rate of fatal crashes by more than three quarters, and the AA has called for close monitoring on the safety impact of the switch-off

The move comes as many councils switch off street lights on A-roads and in residential areas in the early hours of the morning, prompting opponents to warn of an increase in crime and vandalism.

A Daily Mail investigation revealed scores were contemplating the move, billed as meeting climate change targets but saving themselves hundreds of thousands of pounds in the process

Apparently then, there was never any good reason to put up these lights in the first place. (And if they turn off the lights, how will all of the security cameras work? Maybe that is the idea.)

In any case, think how preposterous it is to fear that having less light in the middle of the night on a highway or urban area could cause more accidents or cut crime.

It is certainly far-fetched when compared to the scientific certainty that if we don’t turn off our highway lights we will all die from man-made ‘global warming.’

This article was posted by Steve on Sunday, July 18th, 2010. Comments are currently closed.

5 Responses to “UK Turns Off Road Lights To Cut Emissions”

  1. Douglas says:

    Consider a single 500 watt light that runs 10 hours per day. That’s 5 Kilowatt hours per day or 1.8 megawatt hours per year. The electric cost of that single light would then be $20 to $50 per year at most US electric rates.

    Because of the warm up time for most bulbs used in street lighting they can’t simply be turned on and off because the 10 minute warm up time makes that impractical.

    Interestingly, LED lighting is more efficient as far as energy consumption, but because LEDs can be cycled on and off without damaging the light engine and without any noticable warm up time you can probably expect that in the next decade or so streetlights, particularly those on highway on/off ramps will be able to cycle on and off as traffic ebbs and flows over night.

    I’m big on saving money. LEDs aren’t a good replacement in many situations, but one of the major costs involved in streetlighting is bulb replacement. With LEDs capable of providing the same light at a quarter the power and a potential lifespan 10 times greater than a sodium bulb LED streetlighting is getting to be a good buy today.

  2. proreason says:

    Turn off the lights in Parliament. Forever.

  3. Right of the People says:

    What’s next, banning cars between the hours of midnight and 5 am? That’ll solve the accident problem and save energy to boot.

    Or maybe they should go all the way and just ban the internal combustion engine and the burning of fossil fuels, that’s the direction they’re headed anyway and their ultimate goal. Bring back the horse and goat carts, it would be utopia especially for all the moose limbs who inhabit the British Isles now.

  4. Liberals Demise says:

    Anyone stop to think of the Highway Men making a come back?
    I say turn off the “POWER” in D.C..
    Makes more sense on many fronts.

  5. Conservatus says:

    How many people get hit when they are stopped along side of the road? Isn’t that one of the more common accidents on highways?

    Notice how they downplay any risk. They will lie about anything. It sure sounds like ‘blood for oil’ to me.

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