Suffolk lights switch-off plans backed

A RURAL campaign group has supported controversial moves to switch off street lights in Suffolk.

The county council hopes to save about �400,000 by dimming or turning off lights during off-peak times – prompting criticism from road safety campaigners, who claim it could put motorists, cyclists and pedestrians at increased risk.

But the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has backed the plans.

It said a survey it carried out earlier this year found 83pc of respondents were affected by light pollution.

Emma Marrington, a rural policy campaigner for the CPRE, said: 'A great deal of street lighting across the UK is unnecessary, excessive or poorly targeted. Councils are completely correct to look at where lighting can be dimmed, replaced with better modern fittings, or turned off completely. Light pollution blurs the distinction between town and countryside and denies people the experience of a dark, starry sky.

'It can disrupt wildlife and badly affect people's sleeping patterns.'

Last month a report by road expert Nick Gkikas revealed 71pc of motorists in East Anglia thought switching off essential street lighting was an 'appalling' and 'dangerous' idea. But Guy McGregor, Suffolk County Council's portfolio holder for roads, transport and planning, has insisted lights will only be turned off or dimmed where it makes sense on safety grounds.