Regarding the “Switch our street lights back on” petition being promoted by Sir Bob Russell, we in the Green Party are worried that this is turning into a “lights off / lights on” debate on Essex County Council’s part-night lighting. Sadly, Sir Bob’s petition does not allow people to vote for any alternatives such as the middle way proposed by the Green Party’s County Councillor, James Abbott, as follows.
Firstly, the basic principle of switching lights off at certain times and places to save energy, and hence taxpayers’ money, is sensible. But turning the lights off in entire housing estates at midnight is a step too far. The Council has the technology to select which lights stay on. So, in those areas that need it, we’d suggest keeping “waymarkers” on at junctions and on main routes around town centres.
Secondly, there are now LED streetlights, which run at much lower energy and cost than conventional streetlights. The Council has tried them out in some areas and, while there have been some complaints about how bright they are, the technology allows for dimming individual lights where necessary.
Thirdly, access routes that are hardly used at night can be controlled by local sensors and lit by solar-powered lights.
The key principle should be “the right amount of light in the right place at the right time”. It is never going to be possible to please everyone, but a more flexible approach based on available technology and guided by what local communities want in their areas could give us a solution that everyone can live with, rather than the black and white, literally, of Sir Bob’s petition – and it would bring down energy use and costs.