Motorway lights to be switched off at night to save energy

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Streetlights on motorways are being switched off during hours of darkness to save energy and money, it has been announced by the Highways Agency.

A stretch of the M6 in Lancashire, between junction 27 at Standish and 29 at Lostock Hall, will have all its lighting turned off between the hours of midnight and 5am from this Wednesday. The slip roads and the junctions around them will all remain lit.

The M6 stretch has become the seventh stretch of motorway to undergo the blackout programme, which is intended to help reduce the nation's carbon footprint. Other stretches that turn off their lights include parts of the M4 near Bristol and the M5 near Exeter. Only about 50 percent of the nation's motorways have street lights at the moment.

Andy Withington, the Highways Agency area performance manager for Lancashire said: "This is the seventh site in England and we expect it to work as successfully as everywhere else - achieving up to a 40 percent saving in carbon emissions and energy use as well as giving local communities reduced light pollution of the night sky.

"This site has been carefully chosen because traffic flows are relatively low here in the early hours and when taken together with the good safety record between these junctions, there would be no case for installing new lighting if the decision was based on the overnight figures alone."

The Highways Agency has admitted that the switch off will have a slight affect on safety - the presence of lights lowers the amount of crashes on a stretch of motorway by 10 percent. At the moment, it says it is only choosing sites where there are few accidents.

More sites are being assessed, and the Highways Agency is expected to announce more stretches of motorway that will have their lights switched off.