Street lights could be dimmed

SHAUN LOWTHORPE Street and roadside lights across Norfolk could be dimmed or even switched off to save energy.

SHAUN LOWTHORPE

Street and roadside lights across Norfolk could be dimmed or even switched off to save energy.

Transport chiefs are considering the move as the county council seeks bidders for a private finance initiative (PFI) deal to overhaul 50,000 street lights over the next

25 years.

Officers are to seek details of a scheme running in Essex since September in which the county council switched off two-thirds of lights in two areas between midnight and 5.30am.

So far, five firms have expressed an interest in the Norfolk lighting contract, and hopes are high that a preferred bidder can by found by April.

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Before the widespread use of photocell technology, lights were switched off for part of the night. And a report to a planning and transportation review panel meeting on Wednesday notes that a switch-off in residential areas could save £225,000 a year, while a further £75,000 could be saved if lights were dimmed on traffic routes.

While the bids include plans for dimmable lights, a switch-off is unlikely ahead of a deal being agreed.

"Switching off lights in residential areas is a much bigger policy decision, and there would need to be extensive consultation in advance," the report explains.

"Switching off street lights in residential areas could significantly affect the public's fear of crime, and possibly affect the incidence of crime."

The author urges officials to consult people before changing street lighting practice in Norfolk - apart from dimming street lights very slightly.

Eve Collishaw, who chaired a group looking at the issue, stressed that no decisions had been made.

But she added: "There is a certain amount of dimming that could be done on traffic routes which is fairly imperceptible. We need to look at all options and we want to reduce the energy we use, but asking people to switch off their street lights could be unpopular."