Use torches rather than streetlights in rural areas, says climate adviser

Lord Deben, John Gummer, stands in a field near his Winston home.EADT 2.6.12

Lord Deben, John Gummer, told a Parliament committee councils should not install streetlights in rural areas and people should use torches instead - Credit: SU ANDERSON

Councils should not put street lights in rural areas where people could use a torch, a Tory grandee and leading climate adviser from Suffolk has said.

Lord Deben, who lives near Debenham, told Parliament's Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee that authorities must think about everything they do through the prism of climate change.

Lord Deben, the former Suffolk Coastal MP who is now chairman of the independent advisory Climate Change Committee, said: “The pressures to urbanise the countryside are largely antagonistic to dealing with climate change.”

He said streetlighting in rural areas is unnecessary, adding: “When people move into the countryside you just have to say to them, ‘this is not the town, we do not have street lighting in this village, you have a torch, that’s just how we do it’.”

But streetlighting is important in towns where it can make people feel safer and more likely to walk, he said.

In response to Lord Deben's claims, a spokesman for Suffolk County Council said several factors were considered when deciding where streetlights would be used.

He said the council gave "significant consideration" to the views of residents, as well those of Suffolk police. 

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Earlier this week Suffolk County Council started work replacing 43,400 street lights with LEDs.

The council hopes this change will reduce the amount of electricity consumed by streetlights by 76%, and save more than £1.7million in the process.

The LED rollout will also give the council the ability to switch lights on or off, and dim individual or groups of lights — as well as automatically flagging any lights that are not working. 

Lord Deben also attacked rising sales of SUVs and called for them to be taxed more heavily to reflect the greater emissions the vehicles put out.

He also criticised the government for abandoning plans for zero carbon homes in 2017 which means more than a million properties built since then will have to be retrofitted to make them green enough to meet climate targets.

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