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Big switch-off appears to be going well in West Somerset
NO news is good news, it appears, in relation to a scheme designed to save energy and money.
Six out of seven parishes in West Somerset which expressed an interest in having some or all of their street lights turned off between midnight and 5.30am now have just that.
Brompton Regis, Brushford, Exford, Exton, Monksilver and Winsford have no artificial lighting outside between those hours, but many villagers haven’t noticed.
Cllr Peter Stringer, chairman of Brompton Regis Parish Council, said: “I don’t know if anyone knows about it yet – that sums it up, really.
“It’s a brilliant idea. We put ourselves forward for it several years ago when it was first mooted – it fits in perfectly with Exmoor’s Dark Sky status.
“For most people, as long as they can see what they’re doing in the evening to get around, lighting the rest of the night is a waste of time.
“It might be different in the winter but we will wait and see. Everyone here has always been in favour of it.”
This is phase one of a three-year trial to reduce energycosts andcut light pollution, through not only turning some lights off completely, but also dimming others and installing lower maintenance and longer-lasting LED lights.
While an ongoing saving of £40,000 a year is expected to be made, the project could cost more that £750,000 to implement.
The Regional Improvement and Efficiency Partnership has provided £500,000 of funding with a £75,000 grant coming from government – but £200,000 will come out of the council’s own lighting budget.
Dulverton Mayor Cllr Nick Thwaites said: “In principle, we agreed with the council it was a good idea so save light pollution, although we haven’t heard any details for a long time.
“We brought the fact that the industrial estate here – the Barle Estate – has lights on 24 hours a day, to the council’s attention, but we haven’t heard anything about how many, or which lights they will turn off.
“It’s taxpayers’ money being spent on this, so it needs to be done properly.”
Harvey Siggs, Somerset County Council cabinet member for highways, said: “We’re monitoring the success of these trialperiods closely and the initial signs look very promising.
“We’ll use the information and feedback we gather from these voluntary parishes as we move into the second phase of the project.”
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