County Council’s plans to plunge Harrogate into darkness

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North Yorkshire County Council has released plans to plunge many parts of the Bilton area of Harrogate into darkness from midnight to 5am each day.

They have completed a consultation exercise with County Councillors, District Councillors, North Yorkshire Police and road safety engineers regarding the first phase of a street lighting energy reduction programme for Harrogate.

The Bilton and Nidd Gorge division is the first area in a four year rolling programme designed to reduce North Yorkshire’s £1.7million street lighting and signing energy bill by almost £400,000. It could also see a 3,000 tonne (27%) reduction in North Yorkshire’s street lighting carbon footprint by the end of the 2015/16 financial year.

The plans will see many streets plunged into darkness from midnight until 5am. Most streets will have little or no lighting with any street lighting being focused around junctions only.

To see the full extent of the lights that could be switch off see the interactive map

The Highways Act empowers local authorities to light roads but does not place a duty to do so. They have a duty of care to road users and has an obligation to light obstructions on the highway.

A full review of all 49,000 County Council-owned street lights will now be undertaken. Lights which are no longer required will be removed, and the rest will be assessed to determine the appropriateness of switching them off for part of the night.

The technology required to switch street lights off for part of the night is relatively cheap. If lights are switched off between midnight and 5am, the subsequent savings will pay for the installation costs within 3 years.

The project could eventually see almost two thirds of North Yorkshire County Council’s street lights switched off for part of the night when road use is at a minimum. This approach would be considered for car parks, bus stations, industrial estates, cycle routes and footpaths, as well as in residential areas and other minor roads.

Members of the county council’s Executive voted last summer in favour of introducing a system which would allow street lights to be turned off during part of the night. But they have stressed that no lights will be affected in areas where road safety, crime, or anti-social behaviour is an issue.

The Council recognises that there may be public concerns about switching off street lights late at night and is committed to a full engagement. Before any changes are made to the street lights, every potential site is being thoroughly assessed.

Comments can be made directly to the County Council Online

County Cllr Geoff Webber, who represents Bilton and Nidd Gorge said:

This is an excellent scheme which will benefit the council taxpayer through reductions in electricity costs and carbon tax. It has cross-party support on the county council and all councillors as well as the emergency services are being consulted on a detailed basis. This is not an issue to be turned into a political football.

County Councillor Gareth Dadd, Executive Member for Highways and Planning Services, has pledged that the consultation process will be central to the delivery of any street lighting savings.

County Councillor Gareth Dadd said:

It is important that the police and local councillors are involved in the assessment process to ensure that only non-essential street lights are removed or switched off for part of the night.

Similar schemes have been introduced by councils in other parts of the UK, including Leicestershire, Gloucestershire, Essex and Buckinghamshire.

The proposals for Bilton and Nidd Gorge are available to view on the county council’s website


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  1. I think this is ridiculous, think of all the young girls and boys walking home late at night. It is only going to cause problems and that should be obvious.

  2. Surrey Council seem to have managed to achieve the same end result (saving energy and £12 million over 25 years), but at the same time they get all their lights replaced *and* make them centrally-controlled.

    The central control then means that they can save energy by turning the lights down 50%, rather than off. They are also white, and better at reducing upward light pollution.

    See Surrey Council’s site

    Bradford are doing a similar thing, but only on the basis of ongoing-maintenance

  3. I question whether this is the right thing to do as crime levels are expected to rise during those hours. A much better idea would be to switch off every other lamp post instead,

    This policy is typical of the short-term thinking that characterises that of council leaders.

    To have no lighting whatsoever is a criminals dream come – things (e.g. street crime) which may be seen by witnesses will be invisible.

    Another idea is to reintroduce low energy equivalents of the white lights you used to see many years ago. These could be attached half way up existing lamp posts so that these come on from midnight to 5am say.

  4. Eco loons want to turn back the developement clock and will only be happy when WE are living in the Dark and Cold and not using cars or planes. “They” on the other hand will attend very important summits in far away places all paid for by the public purse. Town Halls up and down the country are staffed by an expensive army of useless eco warriors…most of whom could not survive if not suckling on the teat of the Taxpayer.
    Looney schemes and staff will still be funded, core services will be reduced and taxes will still rise. I thought this was to change.

  5. This is all well and good when discussed in terms such as carbon footprint. But what about safety? There are plenty of people who either get home from or leave for work between midnight and 5am. Plus, there are the late night club-goers.

    It’s narrow-minded to think the only people about will be in vehicles (implied by the note about lighted junctions.) There are plenty of pedestrians around as well. Will they be expected to carry a torch on them? Okay, a torch might make a good defensive weapon, but the light isn’t brilliant and I suspect the police will get a lot of false alarm suspected burglary calls.

  6. Been cars broken into, motorbikes stolen etc around my area. This was pretty much unheard of before, now all of a sudden everyone’s having their stuff taken. The police come along look for finger prints, which of course we know they won’t find any because the thief is wearing a pair of marigolds, and you hear nothing about it.

    When it came my turn to pay for this stupid policy, the police were very busy with thefts all over Suffolk; I was told over the phone as a reason for maybe not coming to see me on the same-day.

    Really makes me wonder what world these people who make these decisions live in – because I want to live there as well!

    Ipswich North-West

  7. Another ridiculous idea to save relatively little money at the expense of safety and peace of mind. The idiot councellors who agreed to this proposal should watch ‘Assault on Precinct 13’. The complete darkness we now have in my cul-de-sac is a godsend to thieves and vandals.

  8. I just recently returned from holiday (early am) and thought we were experiencing a power cut! Surely this cannot help crime figures?

    It is far too early to look at analytics in Harrogate, but, just FYI, as I was taking my bags from the boot of my car a chap walked past me and i genuinely had no idea that he was there!

    Thankfully he was not up to any mischief but there are many that will take advantage of this extra camouflage…..

  9. I think this is ridiculous. Ok there may be certain areas that can have the lights off through the night. Where we live there is one light at the top of the cul de sac which we could always rely on. If we heard a noise in the night we could look out of the window and see if anyone was around. Now we cannot see a thing. There was a burgalry a few months ago and because the lights were off no one saw anything. I have already e mailed the council before but never got an answer.We are now having to consider getting another security light at the front of our house to compensate for the lights being off. This means more expense. So annoying. Now the gypsies have taken up residence not too far away so this means another worry

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