LEDs score comeback victory over streetlight switch off in Kent

LEDs have scored a dramatic comeback victory in the great streetlighting fight in the county of Kent, where authorities are turning the lights back by installing modern, energy saving luminaires.

Like many localities around the UK, Kent had decided to save money and energy by switching off streetlights in the wee hours. Starting last April, it plunged county roads into darkness from 1 a.m. to 6:30 a.m., aiming to trim £1 million a year from expenditures.

The move that drew loud opposition from residents. The police also came out against it, worried that crime would rise.

The local governing body has now overturned the unpopular measure. Instead of darkness, it has chosen light – energy saving LED light in particular.

'Kent County Council is set to return every residential area to all-night lighting by converting its stock of 120,000 street lights to LED,' the Kent and Sussex Courier reported.

The project will cost £40 million, including a central management system, the council said on its website. It anticipates a 60 percent reduction of energy required for streetlighting.

Council member David Brazier claimed that, according to police reports, the switch-off did not increase crime levels.

'However, many residents want all night lighting and this will be affordable with LED technology while delivering huge savings in energy and carbon tax,' Brazier said. 'Also, LED gives a better, more focused light that is highly controllable and economical to maintain.'

The council will dim some lights after peak hours, but will nevertheless leave them on all night.

Kent plans to solicit bid and to begin the three-year conversion either this year or next, beginning in residential areas first. The county claimed that the conversion is the largest of its kind in the country.

The flip-flop echoes recent developments in the Shropshire town of Oswestry.

Streetlight switch offs have sparked controversy around the country, with residents fearful of crime and of poor road safety. On the ohter hand, campaigners are worried about possible harmful health effects from LEDs.

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Photo is from Sezer66 via Shuttetstock

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