PUBLISHED: 16:53 07 February 2007 | UPDATED: 10:08 31 May 2010
I CAN understand Howard Rolfe wanting to put up a smokescreen around the Conservatives plan to switch off street lights after 12pm: he can clearly see the damage it is doing to his electoral ambitions. The report in The Times concerning Devon s plans fo
I CAN understand Howard Rolfe wanting to put up a smokescreen around the Conservatives' plan to switch off street lights after 12pm: he can clearly see the damage it is doing to his electoral ambitions.
The report in The Times concerning Devon's plans for street lights is not wholly accurate. In a pilot scheme, two relatively small sites will be having their street lights dimmed (in line with advice from the Institute of Lighting Engineers) late at night - not switched off. As part of the pilot, Devon County Council will consider road safety and crime implications. Residents' views will be sought. Depending on the outcome of the pilot, Devon County Council will then see whether it is something they should continue with and extend.
In Essex, Conservative-controlled Essex County Council has decided to switch off the street lights in two whole Districts - with little or no consultation (apart from with a handful of Conservative Party activists, it would appear).
Mr Rolfe's claim that the Conservatives are acting merely to reduce Uttlesford's carbon footprint do not stand up to scrutiny. Essex County Council's Conservative leader, Lord Hanningfield, has stated that refusing permission for Stansted Airport to expand was a mistake. Airport expansion is, of course, a much bigger cause of climate change than street lights.
Essex County Council have the option - like the rest of us - to buy their electricity from a provider that uses renewable sources of energy; they do not appear to have taken up that option.
The Conservatives' proposal to switch off street lights after midnight is all about saving money without regard to the consequences.