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Lincolnshire County Council reports street light switch brings carbon savings

Lincolnshire County Council has reported a 45 per cent reduction in electricity consumption from street lighting since switching to part-night lighting in 2016, a report reveals.

Even more impressive is the 74.2 per cent decrease in emissions from streetlight usage over the same period.

According to the council’s carbon report for 2022-23, set to be presented to the Environment and Economy Scrutiny Committee next week, electricity consumption from street lighting has seen a remarkable reduction, dropping from 19,731,361kwh to 10,840,612kwh.

A change to street lighting has led to benefits according to a council report
A change to street lighting has led to benefits according to a council report

Concurrently, greenhouse gas emissions have decreased from 8,130 tonnes of CO2e to 2,096.

The 2016/17 street lighting transformation project is credited as the main factor behind these reductions.

Coun Richard Davies (Con), executive member for highways, noted the project’s impact, saying: “Our 2016/17 street lighting transformation project was pivotal in this reduction, which has been followed on by ongoing conversion of non-LED lights to LED.”

He confirmed the council’s commitment to its current plans, indicating no forthcoming changes in policy or projects for the scheme.

Yet the decision to switch off streetlights sparked controversy. Under the transformation project, 820 lights were turned off.

Residents and opponents of the plans voiced concerns about the safety implications of turning off streetlights.

Many have appealed for the reinstatement of lighting on darkened streets, highlighting fears for personal safety and potential crime increases.

Most of Lincolnshire’s street lights are turned off between midnight and 6am as a cost-saving measure.

The council maintains that there is no link between the lack of lighting and crime.

However, many women have voiced their fears, with some refusing to walk alone during these hours.

Coun Kev Clarke (Lab) said: “The concerns persist. There have also been several break-ins, and we genuinely don’t want the streetlights off.”

However, of the lights turned off, only four locations have been reactivated, at the request and cost of a single parish council.

While the council has made substantial progress in reducing its carbon footprint, the journey to net zero remains challenging.

Cabinet member Colin Davie (Con) provided a broader perspective, pointing out the increased reliance on coal-fired and gas power stations in winter 2022/23.

Coupled with a colder winter and higher heating demands, greenhouse gas emissions related to electricity use in 2023/24 may slightly surpass the previous year’s figures.

“The council continues to work hard to reduce its carbon footprint, and we remain committed to helping the UK become net-zero by 2050,” Coun Davie added.

Coun Marianne Overton (Ind) described the environmental progress as a “dramatic improvement”, underscoring the advantages of LED lighting in areas where it’s less crucial.

She also stressed the importance of lighting in areas with vulnerable residents and at hazardous junctions.

“We’ve long been advised by the police to light up our homes if there’s crime, but now it seems the narrative has shifted,” she noted.

She encouraged the installation of CCTV and motion-sensitive lighting, adding, “modern cameras are incredibly effective.”

What do you think? Do the environmental benefits outweigh the safety concerns? Email: smeditor@stamfordmercury.co.uk

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