Street lights to be switched off in Kent

Seventy thousand street lights will be switched off overnight in Kent as the local authority switches to part-night lighting.

The council’s ‘Safe and Sensible Street Lighting’ approach to reducing energy bills by part-night lighting has been backed by 75% of residents who took part in a summer-long consultation.

According to the local authority, the move to stop lighting around 60% of Kent’s 120,000 lights between midnight and 5.30am GMT will save council taxpayers £1 million a year, cut carbon emissions by 5,000 tonnes annually and also reduce light pollution.

Residents were asked about the switch-off hours and the exclusion criteria that should be considered when selecting which street lights should be converted to part-night lighting. In addition to those who approved the part-night lighting hours a further 4% said they wanted the switch-off to start before midnight.

The county council will not switch off any street lights in town centres, areas with CCTV, antisocial behaviour areas, at busy road junctions, roundabouts or sites with road safety issues.

Lighting engineers will now work across the county on a district by district basis, starting in Tunbridge Wells, in early December, followed by work in Sevenoaks, Tonbridge and Malling, Ashford, Dartford, Shepway, Gravesham, Dover, Swale, Thanet, Maidstone and Canterbury over the next six months.

David Brazier, Kent County Council cabinet member for transport and environment, said: “We consulted widely on this, and it’s obvious there is support for the idea of reducing energy use and for the hours we will part-night light.

“There was also support for the criteria we use to select lights for part-night lighting. We are currently mapping each district and applying these criteria. The final details will be published on our website on a district by district basis.

“Our approach has always been a common sense one – we don’t need to light street lamps when they are not being used, after all you don’t leave your lights on at home when you go to bed. There are a considerable number of lights that will be switched off after midnight. Initially, residents may be concerned that they are not working and we would ask them to check whether they are part of the part-night lighting stock by logging on to our website.”

Residents in Tunbridge Wells can check which lights are being converted to part night lighting by visiting our safe and sensible street lighting page. Plans for other districts will be added as the work progresses.

Meanwhile engineers will also turn off around 2,500 lights on a trial basis for one year. These are lights that would not have been installed if the road were being built today. If there are any reports during the trial that safety or crime levels have been adversely affected, then sites can immediately be restored.

The county council discussed its proposals with Kent Police; the Kent Association of Local Councils; and all 12 Joint Transportation Boards, where local councillors discuss transport issues.

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