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Street lighting trial on the cards for seven Exmoor parishes
TAXPAYERS will foot part of the bill in a trial that will see street lighting reduced in seven parishes on Exmoor.
The Somerset County Council scheme includes plans to dim some streetlamps, turn others off between midnight and 5.30am and install lower maintenance and longer-lasting LED lights in new or replacement lamps in a bid to cut costs and reduce the amount of light pollution and energy consumed.
Town and parish councils will consult people who live in Brompton Regis, Brushford, Exford, Exton, Monksilver, Winsford and Dulverton, where all 177 streetlamps were turned off for the BBC’s Stargazing Live event in January, about the plans over the coming weeks.
The switch-off could save the county council £123,000 in energy costs and £8,300 in carbon tax payments during the three-year trial but will cost more than £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 lighting budget.
Cllr Harvey Siggs, cabinet member for transformation and highways, said: “The advances in lighting technology and the funding available are making this a worthwhile exercise in improving Somerset’s night skies and reducing the council’s energy costs.
“There will be consultation everywhere it is proposed to turn off streetlamps, and I’m sure people in Somerset will welcome the choice of how their streets are lit, and the opportunity to contribute to cash savings and darker skies.”
Exmoor National Park was the first place in Europe to be granted International Dark Sky Reserve status in November 2011 and it is hoped this move will enhance the park’s stargazing experience.
The effects of the trial will be monitored and full lighting restored if crime or anti-social behaviour, or traffic accidents, increase.
Consultation will end in December with the aim of the switch-off starting early in 2013.