Streets to be plunged into darkness at night with flick of switch

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ON THE outskirts of Harrogate residents are preparing for their surroundings to be immersed in darkness.

North Yorkshire County Council has plans for around 30,000 street lights across the county to only be switched on for part of the night in the coming years in a bid to save on energy bills.

It has announced the Bilton and Nidd Gorge areas of Harrogate will be the first affected with public talks underway on which streets will be targeted.

The authority says a full review of all 49,000 county council-owned street lights will now be undertaken. Lights which are no longer required will be removed, and the rest will be assessed to decide if it is appropriate to switch them off for part of the night.

One resident, who does not wish to be named, said he is anticipating: “a war time level of lighting” in Harrogate.

It is proposed the scheme will begin later this year in Bilton and Nidd Gorge. Work in Scarborough is also due to take place this year.

Bilton and Nidd Gorge are the first part of a four year rolling programme designed to reduce North Yorkshire’s energy bill by almost £400,000 a year and reduce the county’s street lighting carbon footprint.

Detailed design and risk assessment has yet to be carried out for each site but it is estimated about 1,000 lights will be dimmed, 500 will be switched off, and up to 30,000 will be on part time.

North Yorkshire County Council has recently completed consultation with county councillors, district councillors, North Yorkshire Police and road safety engineers regarding the first phase of a street lighting energy reduction programme for Harrogate.

A council spokeswoman said: “The technology required to switch street lights off for part of the night is relatively cheap. If lights are switched off between midnight and 5am, the subsequent savings will pay for the installation costs within three years.

“The project could eventually see almost two thirds of North Yorkshire County Council’s street lights switched off for part of the night when road use is at a minimum. This approach would be considered for car parks, bus stations, industrial estates, cycle routes and footpaths, as well as in residential areas and other minor roads.”

Members of the county council’s executive voted in favour of the move last year.

But the local authority has stressed no lights will be affected in areas where road safety, crime, or anti-social behaviour is an issue.

Coun Gareth Dadd, executive member for highways and planning services, said: “It is important that the police and local councillors are involved in the assessment process to ensure that only non-essential street lights are removed or switched off for part of the night.”