Part-night street lighting frequently asked questions
- What is the council's responsibility to provide street lighting?
- What time are the lights in some streets turned off?
- What are other councils doing?
- What are you going to do with the money saved – will my Council Tax reduce?
- What about crime?
- What about road safety?
- Why can't you turn off every other light instead?
- Why can't you dim the lights instead?
- Why not convert the lights to LED as these use far less energy?
- Can't street lights be powered by solar panels?
- Could the lighting have new technology such as motion sensing?
What is the council's responsibility to provide street lighting?
There is no legal requirement on local authorities in the UK to provide street lighting. The Council does has a duty to ensure that lighting units are kept in safe condition.
What time are the lights in some streets turned off?
Lights in selected roads are switched off between 1am and 5am.
What are other councils doing?
Many other authorities have introduced similar part night lighting schemes successfully, without adverse effects and have made significant savings. With rising energy costs and reduced budgets these types of changes to street lighting are becoming more common.
What are you going to do with the money saved – will my Council Tax reduce?
No, Council Tax will not go down as a result of part night lighting. There are increasing pressures on the Council's funding and as with most public sector organisations, we continually need to reduce costs. Part Night Lighting is one of many measures contributing to these savings.
What about crime?
Lights have not been switched off roads where Surrey Police have raised concerns about the potential effect on crime. A study published in 2015 by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) found no link between street lights being dimmed or switched off and any increase in road accidents or crime. An initial study by Surrey Police found that there is no statistical correlation between crime and street lighting.
What about road safety?
Lights are not switched off on busy roads with high traffic volumes. In other roads, lights are not switched off if the Council's Road Safety Team or Surrey Police raise concerns.
Why can't you turn off every other light instead?
Turning off every other light would only generate 50% of the CO2 and cost savings. Lighting systems are designed to provide consistent levels of light in a road. Turning off every other light is not only likely to create pockets of darkness but also make it harder for the eyes to adjust and see clearly between lights.
Why can't you dim the lights instead?
We already dim most lights from 10pm to 5.30am each night. Lights in residential areas are dimmed by 50% power and those on main roads by 25%. We have carried out tests by dimming lights by more than 50% and found they do not function properly and start flickering.
Why not convert the lights to LED as these use far less energy?
When our street lighting contract was awarded in 2009, LED technology was not proven on street lights at the time and the Council invested in a Central Management System allowing us to dim the lights and switch them off if we wanted to. The Council is currently investigating the costs of replacing the street lights with LED as they could reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions further.
Can't street lights be powered by solar panels?
There are challenges with using solar power for street lights as the daylight is much shorter in the winter with the lights on for much longer making it difficult to generate and store the energy needed to guarantee the lights full operation from dusk to dawn. The cost of the equipment needed along with the size of battery and panels would not be outweighed by the energy saved.
Could the lighting have new technology such as motion sensing?
Motion-sensing switches, such as those which operate security lights, have been considered, but most of the street lighting in use today requires a warm-up period of several minutes to reach full output and is not suitable for this type of switching. There are also concerns about potential uneven lighting for drivers and disturbance for residents.