Lights off in Cheshire?

An end to all night street lighting in parts of Cheshire, fewer and dimmer street lights, greater use of more efficient light bulbs and reduced levels of lighting maintenance are under county council consideration as a means of reducing costs and global warming.

Street lighting across Cheshire is costing £4.23 million a year. Energy costs absorb £2 million, routine maintenance £1.6 million and structural maintenance including the renewal of dilapidated lighting columns a further £630,000.

But a report from officers stresses the need for the authority to also take account of social needs and the views of local residents, property owners and road users.

The considerations arise out of an initial call last summer from Liberal Democrat leader Sue Proctor for a review of the county’s ten year old street lighting policies. At a subsequent meeting the environment executive called on officers to report back on the scope for reduction in street lighting, energy saving and maintenance.

The report says the number of street lights in Cheshire increases by 2% a year, requiring a further £40,000 in energy while also increasing CO2 emissions.

Options to reduce energy include the removal of street lights where there is little or no adjacent property, where areas have been by-passed, where demolition has reduced the need on former industrial or residential roads, or where it no longer serves a purpose.

The advent of safer cars and improved headlights means highway lighting provided essentially in the 1960s and 70s might now be reduced while the de-illumination of 2,000 traffic signs could save a further £20,000 a year.

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