There’s been some discussion recently about councils turning off lights between midnight and dawn. Hooray. Actually, I think there are lots of places where they shouldn’t be on at all. And others where some lights might be a good idea but not nearly as many.
Street lights are big energy guzzlers because they have to produce quite a powerful light over a distance – and much of what they produce is wasted going straight into the night sky. And that brings me to another point – light pollution. Looking at a world map in the darkness of night, it’s not actually dark at all, it’s blazing with light. And if you’re on the ground looking up at the sky there aren’t many places where you can get a clear view of the stars.
Sailing across the Carribbean in the 80’s I spent hours gazing at the sky and saw lots of shooting stars. But most people growing up today won’t see any in their lifetime – only a ghastly orange murky glow.
When I sat on the District Council in Somerset, I discovered that there were some pretty dreadful policies on street lighting and once they were in place they were very hard to get rid of. New housing developments above a certain size were automatically fitted with lights, even if the residents opposed the idea. This meant that villages that for centuries descended into peaceful darkness at night were transformed into urban outposts.
Actually, there’s one particular street light that really gets my goat. I live on the top of a hill in the countryside with a few farms and other houses nearby. It’s not even a village. But there’s one street light in the lane. It happens to be visible from my bedroom window. I haven’t raised a protest because I know how difficult and time consuming it would be to get rid of it. But I’d be very happy if someone put it out of action….
So roll on Councils turning lights off – and more…..