Some thoughts on Part Night Street Lighting ahead of switch-off on 01/04/14

Over the past few years, I’ve spoken to many people – and received e-mails from others – about the introduction of part-night street lighting in Exeter, so much so that I’ve put together some thoughts

Many thanks for your comments on the plan to introduce part-night street lighting [PNSL]  throughout Exeter over the coming months.

I have taken a huge interest in this matter and have blogged on the subject.

The journey to the introduction of PNSL in Exeter has been a long and hard road – let me try and summarise some of that journey ( trying searching the Express and Echo website for some of the background).

It is the upper-tier local authority Devon County Council (rather than Exeter City Council) that is responsible for street-lighting across the city. However they have no statutory duty to have them on throughout the night – they only have a specific duty to maintain those street lights that they do provide.

In 2006 DCC embarked on a carbon-reduction programme to reduce carbon footprint and save costs.

Currently DCC is repsonsible for over 72,00 street lights countywide (including 12,000 in Exeter), costing an estimated £3.4m in electricity (in 2011) and producing nearly 20,000 tonnes of CO2  every year.This is about 30% of DCC’s annual emissions of almost 62,000 tonnes – the equivalent of the total annual enegry use ofg 7,3000 Devon homes or a town about the size of Honiton.

With the combined pressures of rising energy prices and the need to reduce emissions to prevent dangerous climate change, DCC  has decided that action is required to reduce energy consumption in street lighting.

A number of options have were assessed, and it was decided that  the most cost-effective solution is to follow the lead of the Highway Agency and turn off non-essential street lighting from 12:30am to 5:30am.

It is estimated that this could save up to 4,000 tonnes of CO2  and reduce the present energy bill by £450,000. These emissions savings would go a long way to meet both national and local emissions reduction targets.

DCC have come up with a PNSL policy which can be found at:

http://www.devon.gov.uk/streetlightingpolicypartnightlighting.pdf

INTRODUCTION

The aim of this Policy revision is to ensure that the following objectives are met:

  •  Savings in energy consumption are actively pursued to reduce carbon emissions and the effect of rising energy costs
  •  That the night-time safety of road users and members of the community is considered at all times.
  •  That street lighting assists in the reduction of crime and fear of crime.
  •   That good street lighting design minimises the effect on the environment whilst enhancing the night-time ambience
  •  To provide public lighting that is cost effective, taking into account energy conservation and sustainability.
  •  To identify criteria for the provision of street lighting and for duration and timing of lighting operation.
  •  Existing part night lighting areas will not be changed to all night lighting except where there is evidence of night time crime occurring to no street lighting
  •  Existing all night lighting will be maintained on designated A and B roads and other routes as agreed from time to time with local police and parish and town councils. Where appropriate, reduced lighting using dimming technology will be considered, together with part-night operation of certain routes subject to a risk- management approach.

To implement the policy DCC have come up with 2 options for street lighting across the county, depending on the location,:

  • Part-night lighting in residential areas. Meaning that the hours that streetlights are on will be between dusk and 12:30am and again from 5:30am until dawn. Exceptions will apply where there are overriding safety issues.
  • All night and late night dimming lighting on main roads and areas of high night-time activity, such as town centres. Street lights will remain lit all night, but consideration will be given to dimming lighting where possible.

DCC have been rolling out PNSL across the county since and first tried to introduce PNSL for Exeter in 2010.

In April 2012, DCC Cabinet approved a £1.7m investment in a new Street Lighting Monitoring System which would allow for much more flexibility in the operation of PNSL by providing direct control of every light connected to the system.

http://www.devon.gov.uk/loadtrimdocument?url=&filename=CDW/12/11.CMR&rn=12/WD405&dg=Public

DCC wanted to press ahead with introducing the PNSL scheme across Exeter last autumn, but direct intervention by Exeter Labour councillors   – both City and Country – meant there was a series of consultation events and presentations across the city.

We tried to get them to look at the option of replacing the current sodium lamps with LED lamps but they were not prepared to consider this.
Another concern we raised with the fear of increased crime due to PNSL. We were told that in areas of Devon where PNSL has been introduced, there have been some isolated increases of crime, but the feared increases have not materialised and in some instances the police have reported that crime rates have fallen. However, police will have access to the control equipment to switch the street lights back on if necessary, and DCC have told us that they will consider switching the lights back on if crime does increase.

The initial plans for Cowick meant that the only major A and B roads that would remain lit  – and the only major road in the ward is the B3121 Pocombe Hill/Dunsford Road running Pocombe Bridge to the First and Last junction at Cowick Street.

The other concession that the Labour cllrs got was that the plans for PNSL would be rolled out in a phased way across the city ward by ward over a period of 12 months or so.

The Labour councillors for Cowick thought that this wasn’t good enough – and pressed for Cowick Lane and Buddle Lane to be added to that list of “major roads”. It was also agreed that the lane running from Buddle Lane to Merrivale (alongside the entrance to Bowhill School and St Philips Court) would remain lit as a “walking route”.

DCC will continue to consider the effects of PNSL and will continue to consult until 6 month after the final areas are converted (the last wards are expected to be on PNSL by March 2015).

Members of the public can make comments on the PNSL scheme to DCC on the normal customer services phone number 0845 155 1004, but residents can only use the form on DCC’s dedicated website for Exeter PNSL

http://new.devon.gov.uk/streetlighting/part-night-lighting/partnightlighting-exeter/

They can also e-mail:

lighting@devon.gov.uk

or write in to:

Street Lighting, Devon County Council, Matford Lane offices, County Hall, Topsham Road, EXETER EX2 4QW.

I suggest that any comments on PNSL in Exeter are directed to DCC, but can I suggest that you keep your local (ECC and DCC) councillors informed on what you’ve said to Devon County Council

I have asked DCC to update their “dedicated” website on PNSL to take account of the new routes that will remain lit – and the current proposed schedule (DCC are reluctant on this point “as they wish to learn from the PNSL roll-out in Alphington and Cowick)

Like you, I am still waiting to see the comments on the consultation posted on the site – they were promised for the end of February!

I have been told that DCC plan to issue a media release in the next day or two to annouce the commencement of Exeter PNSL – I await this with interest

I am looking  forward to seeing the stars over Exeter over the coming months and I hope that the fear of crime is not realised by an increase in actual crime. By introducing PNSL, DCC will hope to save a significant amount of money – enabling them to protect other essential services.

But please be advised, I and my Cowick colleagues will continue to monitor how the PNSL policy affects residents in the ward.

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