Pull plug on motorway lights to save the environment, say experts - Printable Version

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Pull plug on motorway lights to save the environment, say experts - TriWooOx - 11-29-2009

Quote:Motorway lights should be turned off at night to protect the environment, experts have said.

Light pollution stops us enjoying the beauty of the night sky and could be disrupting the delicate life cycles of birds, bats and other wildlife, according to the Royal Commission of Environmental Pollution.

They say that motorway lights, other than those at junctions, do little to prevent accidents, and that the benefits are likely to be too small to justify the costs.

Professor Steve Rayner, from the Commission, said: ‘Over the last century there has been a big increase in lighting and it has never really been investigated. It has just crept up on us.

‘The default assumption was that more light was necessary. It is worth at least going back to test that assumption.’

Junctions should remain lit, the independent panel of scientists, doctors, lawyers, economists and businessmen added in its report, Artificial Light in the Environment.

The Highways Agency is trying out switch-offs on six sections of motorway between midnight and 5am ‘without compromising safety for road-users’.

But AA president Edmund King said: ‘The reaction we get from drivers is that it is much safer and they feel safer driving on a lit motorway a night. What we want to be looking at is more environmentally friendly, less intrusive lighting.’

The Commission’s report also says that although illuminating dark streets makes us feel safer, it does not necessarily cut crime.

Chairman Sir John Lawton added: ‘We are not saying you shouldn’t install lighting to reduce crime, but you need to think about what lights you install and where you install them.

‘Too much light creates dark and shady areas which allow criminals to hide.’

Other recommendations include toning down floodlighting of tourist attractions, and using old-fashioned ‘yellow’ street lights, as these may be less damaging to wildlife than their modern replacements.