Wales

More than half of Welsh street lights off or dimmed at night

Street light Image copyright Thinkstock

More than half of Wales' street lights are switched off or dimmed at night, data gleaned from councils has found.

Powys, Torfaen, Swansea and Anglesey all switch off a proportion of their lights for all the night, with a further 10 counties switching off for a period of time overnight.

Many have taken the decision to save money, and more councils are expected to follow suit.

Councils do not have a statutory duty to provide street lighting.

Stuart Davies from Wales County Surveyors Society said: "It's being driven from a financial perspective. There's huge financial pressures facing the councils so they're having to look at all areas of expenditure.

"There's no duty to provide lighting so it's one area they're looking at to reduce the costs and also to reduce the amount of carbon generated."

Pembrokeshire council said it has saved £160,000 in annual energy bills as a result of switching off all lighting late in the evening since 2011 apart from town centres and areas with anti-social behaviour issues.

'Downsides'

Simon Nicholas, who campaigns for street lighting, told BBC Radio Wales: "Part of the problem is there doesn't seem to be any central government or regional government guidance on this and it's a fairly chaotic situation with different authorities doing different things.

"My main concern surrounds LED [lighting] technology which has a lot of promise but unfortunately there are a lot of downsides to LEDs. There are better ways to save money than to go towards an LED solution or to switch off lights completely."

He said Cardiff had concluded it would be wasteful to throw away its existing lighting so had reduced the wattage of its bulbs from 70W to 50W and dimmed lights at night by 50%.

"Studies show people don't particularly notice the dimming up to 50% particularly if it's between midnight and 6am," he added.

In total, 53% of the 358,494 lights in Wales are switched off or dimmed at night.

Powys switches off the highest proportion of lights for the whole night (15%) and switches off a third for some of the night but does not dim any others.

Swansea and Rhondda Cynon Taf both dim three-quarters of their lights, and Cardiff just under 60%.

Merthyr is the only county that does not switch off or dim any of its lights and has no plans to do so in the future.

The information came from a Freedom of Information request from the Confused.com comparison website. All the Welsh councils responded to the request.

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