Three-quarters of councils turning off street lights

Updated: 
FRANCE-TRANSPORTATION-HIGHWAY
JEAN-SEBASTIEN EVRARD via Getty Images

A vast majority of councils are switching off street lights in attempt to save cash, despite concerns over the increased risk of road accidents on darker road and raised crime levels, new research has discovered. The survey by Labour studied 141 English councils, who between them are in charge of 5.7 million lights.

Many councils are turning off lights in attempt to cut their costs and slash the amount of carbon emissions produced. There has been a dramatic increase in the number of lights switched off or dimmed at night since May 2010 when the coalition came to power, with 1.36 million lights affected now, compared with a mere 148,000 in 2010.

Of that figure, the number of lights switched off completely now standards at 558,000 – a substantial eight times higher than in May 2010, while 10 times more lights are dimmed now than before, reports the Daily Mail. As a result, the overall proportion of lights turned down or switched off completely has jumped from 2.6 per cent to 24 per cent over the last four-and-a-half years, with 50 councils choosing to switch off lights and 98 dimming some lights, with a further 42 doing both.

However, following the increased number of dark roads, the AA and Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents is pushing for an investigation into the change in accident rates and crime figures for the areas where lights are turned off or dimmed.

President of the AA Edmund King told the Daily Mail: "Roads that are safe when lit can be unsafe with the lights off. Lighting illuminates hazards and gives road users a greater chance of avoiding them."

This survey has discovered that some areas are much harder hit than others; 99 per cent of Surrey's lights are now extinguished at night, with 83 per cent of those in Essex being turned off. Hertfordshire and Dorset also have a majority of their street lights turned off at night.