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SPA Campaign for street lighting 'turn off' ?

Posted: Tue Oct 10, 2006 8:46 am
by Vega
With the current rising costs of electricity supply and energy conservation being top of the agenda around the world at the moment. I feel that there are plenty more local council's that would listen to our views on switching off street lights at certain times to conserve energy.

Do you think the SPA forum should have a new section dedicated to challenging local council's for street light 'switch off' periods. The forum could be used for members to exchange advice, keep us posted on their efforts and any replies for local counsellors etc. Organising it so SPA members who live in the same area can arrange how and when to write to their counsellor's for best effect. It might just spur on many SPA members that may not have considered writing to their council before.

Posted: Tue Oct 10, 2006 9:12 am
by Deimos
I think it would be an excellent idea but cannot vote (none of the options are appropriate for me).


Posted: Tue Oct 10, 2006 11:24 am
by john.wheeldon
I wouldn't get too excited about the efforts in Essex just yet.
The idea was first mooted in July, and as far as I know nothing has happened yet.
The pilot scheme was to be trialled in a few very small areas and the initial response from the local people was not good. (Worries about increase in rapes, muggings, child abduction etc.)
I think the whole thing may be quietly dropped.
John W

Posted: Tue Oct 10, 2006 1:47 pm
by Praesepe
Years ago in Strood in Kent the streetlights would be turned off at a certain time of night. Then for some reason, the council decided to have them on all night. I was at the time this occured in my early teens so had'nt a clue how you went about complaining about such things.

If councils are not willing for whatever reason, to fit sheilded streetlights to save money then turning them off is I guess the only other option.

People are becoming more aware about the environment and if this and the money saving angle are pushed forward maybe more can be done.

In the planetarium at work, Light pollution is mentioned. We say what causes it and that it's wastefull.
Then we show what the sky would look like from a dark area. A lot of people are very surprised.

Hopefully just this simple exersise will at least make people think more and who knows go further and do something about it.

Posted: Tue Oct 10, 2006 6:16 pm
by RL Astro
I think it's a good idea. We need to save the skies in some way as the Government aren't in a rush themselves. Show the person who makes the decision Saturn through a big telescope. That'll sort it :D

Posted: Tue Oct 10, 2006 6:23 pm
by mark_smith
I think it couldnt do any harm to try :)


Posted: Tue Oct 10, 2006 7:21 pm
by davep
Anyone interested in all of this might want to pull out their current copy of Popular Astronomy and turn to page 36...

It's good to see that it's been done in conjunction with the CfDS.

Posted: Wed Oct 11, 2006 8:23 am
by Deimos
I think it is best that action being taken by e.g. Essex is not seen as being driven by astronomers. Nothing wrong with astronomers driving it, just that from a "public perception" perspective it is more likely it bring out negative reaction; the sort of "fine for them to see their stars but what about us not being able to see our way home !!" (typical selfish British reaction).

If the public perceive it as being e.g. to help keep their rates down (less wasted electricity), to to help prevent Global Warming, or many other reasons, then most will see it as a general benefit rather than for just a few who want to enjoy their hobby.

I am all in favour of switching the street lights off, but I do think that how the general public perceive the reasons driving it is very important is it is to become widespread.

In France, most villages (round me anyway) switch off their street lights at midnight. Not for astronomers as there are loads of dark places for them anyway, just to save money (the electricity here is mostly nuclear so it does not even affect Global Warming too much).


Posted: Wed Oct 11, 2006 11:18 am
by krang2k
Iv just voted great Idea, but why is there a "just leave it to the CFDS" option. Why cant SPA work in conjunction whith the CFDS.

I think it would work alot better if there was a section for people to leave feedback on light pollution and how they get on with writing to their councills. But also either have the CFDS add replies and advice on there or have someone contact them on a regular basis. This way the CFDS can keep us upto date with any other light pollution activites being set up by other local/national groups.

Posted: Wed Oct 11, 2006 11:38 am
by davep
krang2k wrote:Why cant SPA work in conjunction whith the CFDS.
Look above.
krang2k wrote:This way the CFDS can keep us upto date with any other light pollution activites being set up by other local/national groups.
I believe that the CfDS newsgroup is still active.

Posted: Wed Oct 11, 2006 1:59 pm
by 10thPlanetTony
Leeds city council has just announced a 10 million pound project to replace all the yellow lights in Leeds with white light ones that do not pollute and are less bright apparantley going to totally transform the sky views to its original image of dark skies with stars everywhere i cant wait, only just got into astronomy seems i timed it well!
tony leeds uk

Posted: Wed Oct 11, 2006 3:00 pm
by Mike Feist
Can't do no harm

This actually means that it can do some harm...two negatives make a positive.

Mike the appalled!

Posted: Wed Oct 11, 2006 3:30 pm
by Vega
Some great responses and plenty of food for thought in there. I agree with Deimos' comments about public perception of astronomers forcing anti-light pollution measures.

Having looked more deeply at the CfDS lighting advice, it seems that the main focus is on 'appropriate lighting' rather than removing lighting. The section about 'cut-off' street/highway lights is a good read.

Maybe campaining to change all street lighting to these new cut off, downward pointing street lights is the way to go ?


Posted: Wed Oct 11, 2006 7:56 pm
by JohnM

I would not hold out to much hope for the new street lights. I beleive they are a PFI contract and the contractor who wins usually puts the lowest bid in as a result they are likley to go for the cheapest lights they can.

The 'White' lights are a lot more problematic for astronomers as they emit across all the spectum so 'Light Pollution' filters have no effect.

For details of what my local council in Sutton have managed to do when they replaced the street lights in my road with new 'White' lights have a look at the light polltion page on my web site at :evil: :(

I hope your council do better 8) otherwise you may need your shades at night !