Thousands of street lights in Somerset could be switched off or dimmed at night as council bosses bid to save more than £130,000 over the next three years.
Somerset County Council hopes the plan to turn off, dim or remove some of the county's 45,000 street lamps will make considerable savings, along with reducing the amount of light pollution produced and energy consumed.
The council predicts a saving of £123,000 in energy costs and £8,300 in carbon tax payments during the first three years of the plan, with continued annual savings for the lighting budget after that period.
Council cabinet member Harvey Siggs said: “The advances in lighting technology and the funding available are making this a worthwhile exercise in improving Somerset’s night skies and reducing the Council’s energy costs.
“There will be consultation everywhere it is proposed to turn off streetlamps, and I’m sure people in Somerset will welcome the choice of how their streets are lit, and the opportunity to contribute to cash savings and darker skies.”
The council says 14 parish councils have expressed an interest to take part in the first phase of the plan, and will be carrying out consultations with residents.
It is proposed that street lights will be turned off between midnight and 5.30am during the trial.
Avon and Somerset Police have not raised concerns about crime or safety in the areas volunteering - including South Petherton, Exford and Keinton Mandeville - according to the council.
Half of the pilot areas are within Exmoor National Park, the first place in Europe to be designated a Dark Sky Reserve.
In January, Dulverton had all 177 streetlamps turned off when it was selected for a BBC-televised astronomy event.
No A or B class roads in Somerset will have lamps switched off during the darkest hours, although eight stretches have been selected for dimming to half the usual brightness.
In villages with only one or two streetlamps, the option to remove them will be presented to the community when they are due for replacement.
There will be further opportunities for towns and villages to join the part-night lighting trial over the next three years with a budget of £750,000 to pay for the changes.
The funding for the three-year project has been provided by the Regional Improvement and Efficiency Partnership (£500,000), Somerset County Council’s lighting budget (£200,000) and £75,000 received within the council’s Performance Reward Grant from Government.
Meanwhile, the council says residential developments across the county are already benefitting from advances in light emitting diode technology (LED), which will mean 60 per cent less spent on energy for lighting compared to existing sodium lamps.
New streets and areas that need extra lighting or replacement lamps are being fitted with LEDs, which combine lower maintenance and running costs with long life expectancy and a purer, whiter light.
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