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Lights out as county starts three-year trial

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 19, 2012

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The go-ahead has been given to change where and when Somerset's 45,000 street lamps are lit.

It will mean some are removed, some dimmed and some turned off at night to reduce the amount of light pollution produced and energy consumed.

The first three years of the plan are expected to save Somerset County Council £123,000 in energy costs and £8,300 in carbon tax payments, with continued annual savings for the lighting budget.

Fourteen parish councils have expressed an interest to take part in the first phase where streetlamps will be turned off between midnight and 5.30am.

Avon and Somerset Police have not raised concerns about crime or safety in any of the areas taking part.

Dulverton is among places involved and which, in January, had all 177 street lamps turned off when it was selected for a BBC televised astronomy event.

Half of the pilot areas are within Exmoor, enhancing the National Park's stargazing experience – the first place in Europe to be designated a Dark Sky Reserve.

There will be further opportunities for villages to join the part-night lighting trial over the next three years with a budget of £750,000 to pay for the changes.

For safety, no A or B class roads will have lamps switched off during the darkest hours. The funding for the three-year project has been provided by the Regional Improvement and Efficiency Partnership and Somerset County Council.

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