M1 lights switched off from Luton to Milton Keynes

Motorway at night (generic) The move will reduce light pollution and carbon emissions

Motorway lighting is to be permanently removed from a section of the M1, the Highways Agency has announced.

The 15-mile stretch, between junction 10 at Luton and junction 13 at Milton Keynes, will retain lighting at junctions and their approaches.

Work is currently under way to make this section a "managed motorway", with variable speed limits and the option to use the hard shoulder at busy times.

The agency said it was confident the move would not affect road user safety.

"Since 2009 we've switched lighting off between the hours of midnight and 5am on 14 carefully-selected stretches of motorways and evidence so far indicates that switching off the lights hasn't had an impact on safety," said Highways Agency director Derek Turner.

"This is not about wishing to remove all lights from the motorway network.

'Save more lives'

"It's about carefully identifying the locations where, under the revised guidelines, we would no longer install lighting.

"The money saved could then be used for other measures on the strategic road network where it would have a more significant safety benefit and potentially save more lives.

"We anticipate achieving an annual reduction in carbon emissions on this M1 stretch of about 810 tonnes.

"Local communities will also benefit from reduced light pollution of the night sky."

Work will commence on the removal of the lighting columns on 17 August and carried out in phases until autumn 2012.

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