Leicestershire Launches Street Light Dimming Trial to Balance Budget and Environmental Goals
Leicestershire County embarks on an innovative journey this month with the initiation of a trial scheme aimed at reducing street light intensity earlier in the evening.
In a decisive move by Leicestershire County Council’s cabinet last December, the county’s street lights will now dim to a mere 30% of their potential brightness from 8pm, a significant adjustment from the previous 10pm dimming schedule.
This 18-month pilot scheme is designed with specific exceptions in mind, ensuring that essential areas such as zebra crossings, speed bumps, steps under illumination, and certain town centre zones remain fully lit for safety and convenience. The initiative emerges amidst a backdrop of financial and environmental concerns, seeking to address an £83 million budget shortfall facing the council over the coming four years. With street lighting adjustments alone targeting £500,000 in savings by the 2024/25 financial year, the council aims to significantly reduce its expenditure while also contributing to environmental conservation with an anticipated carbon savings of 260 tonnes.
However, the scheme has not been met without criticism. A council consultation revealed that 53% of participants opposed the dimming plan, voicing apprehensions over increased crime rates, anti-social behaviour, and potential accidents. Despite these concerns, Councillor Ozzy O’Shea, the cabinet member for highways and transport, has reassured the public of the council’s commitment to closely monitor the trial’s impact, promising adjustments based on empirical evidence and continuous dialogue with emergency services.
The council’s bold step reflects a delicate balance between fiscal responsibility and environmental stewardship, emphasizing the necessity of innovative solutions in the face of financial duress. With approximately 69,600 street lights under its purview and a legal obligation to maintain public safety, the council navigates these challenges with a clear focus on sustainable and responsive community governance.