Shedding light on costs of turning lamps off

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To save on the annual cost of the 89,000 street lamps, Derbyshire County Council are proposing to turn off about 40,000 lamps between midnight and 5.30am, with some off permanently.

This would apparently save £400,000, or an average of £10 per lamp.

I would question how DCC are going to achieve these timed switch-offs without incurring additional costs.

Most street lamps are controlled by light-sensitive cells fitted on top of the lamp and respond to light levels.

To interrupt the lamps as proposed would require some form of timing device. This would result in costs for equipment, labour and transport, possibly £40 to £50 per lamp.

If outdated electro-mechanical time switches are installed, they had to be time-corrected, involving a visit to each lamp if affected by an electricity supply interruption.

Perhaps technology has moved on and DCC have discovered a method of achieving their proposals without incurring added costs, or is this just an accountant’s proposal that has ignored the practicalities and set up costs to achieve a target figure.

The alarming part of the plan is that an undisclosed number of lamps will be permanently switched off. When this was carried out in Thetford, Norfolk, last year, it resulted in an increase in thefts from houses and vehicles, vandalism and anti-social behaviour and was abandoned. Remember the saying: Thieves love darkness.

JK Noble