HUNDREDS of street lights could be switched off across Sevenoaks district as part of plans to save more than £1 million.
Kent County Council has launched a public consultation in which it proposes to turn off around 70,000 of its 120,000 lights during the early morning, possibly between midnight and 5.30am.
Lights on parts of Tonbridge Road and Otford Road in Sevenoaks, two sections of London Road in West Kingsdown and Polhill could all be included in the plans.
But street lights will not be switched off in town centres, areas with CCTV, anti-social behaviour hotspots, at busy road junctions, roundabouts or sites with road safety issues.
And as part of the consultation, residents, businesses, motorists and other groups are being asked for their views on the criteria for selecting which lights are included in the scheme together with the hours of the proposed changes.
Councillor David Brazier, cabinet member for transport and environment, says the council is taking a “safe and sensible approach to rationalising street lights” and want to “ensure we make the best use of Kent taxpayers’ money”.
He said: “Next year we face a bill of £6.4million for illuminating street lights and the associated carbon tax.
“A considerable amount is spent on lighting streets in the early hours and we believe we can save around 20 per cent – that’s more than £1million – by turning lights off when they don’t need to be lit. These proposals would save 5,000 tonnes of carbon emissions.”
The move has been backed by Sevenoaks Town Council’s planning committee whose vice chairman Councillor Margaret Crabtree said it supported the criteria.
“We have no problem at all with the terms of the consultation,” she said. “The switch off would save a large amount of money and will only happen in the early hours of the morning when very few people are around.”
Gerry Wood, chairman of the White Hart Estates Residents Association in Sevenoaks, said he thought the proposals represented a pragmatic approach to the council’s need to reduce costs.
“The plans seem to be common sense to me,” he said.
“My question would be ‘who would notice?’ and if it saves council tax payers’ money, then so much the better – plus there will be benefits to the local wildlife and the environment.”
Over the past two years the county council has implemented a number of initiatives to reduce energy consumption including replacing 3,441 failing lamps with energy efficient ones, setting lights to come on later and go off earlier and dimming lights at predetermined times.
The consultation concludes on Friday, August 23. Submit your views to Safe and Sensible Street Lighting, Kent County Council, Invicta House, County Hall, Maidstone ME14 1XX or via www.kent.gov.uk