Residential areas could be hit by blackout

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STREETS in residential areas of Kirklees could be blacked out overnight as lights are turned off.

Kirklees Council will soon begin a pilot scheme which will see parts of the district plunged into darkness with around 2,000 lights switched off at midnight and turned back on again at 5am in a bid to lower the local authority’s energy bills.

Responding to a request under the Freedom of Information Act the local authority said: “The council is determining where the street lights in the trial will be located and it could affect residential areas.”

It is estimated that the move will save approximately £20,000 in energy costs each year.

There are over 51,000 street lights in Kirklees and current energy costs are £1.8m per year - 48 per cent of the street lighting maintenance budget.

Last year a programme for replacing all the street lights in Kirklees was put together but the funding needed was not forthcoming to carry out the programme. As a result, other options were looked at including cost savings.

The possibility of switching off street lights came from a local resident during a discussion about budgets.

Councillors have been asked to suggest an average of seventy seven street lights per ward to be included in the trial and these are in the process of being selected.

Installing energy-efficient technology in the 2,000 lights will cost council bosses £60,000 but the switch-off will cut the authority’s annual electricity bill at a time when budgets are squeezed.

A report to members of the authority’s cabinet in December said a trial could help establish locations where street lights could be switched off in future in a bid to ensure the impact on the most vulnerable is minimised.

The authority says that if energy use remains constant and inflation rates occur as predicted then the annual street lighting budget will rise to about £2.9m by 2015.

Kirklees, in common with some other councils and organisations and businesses, is also faced with charges under the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) tax, which it has said could spiral in later years if the street lighting system remains unchanged.

The council also plans to replace 5,000 of the old orange-coloured street lights with more energy-efficient white ones to bring down energy bills.