Reducing the hours of darkness

Published: 19 Sep 2018


Lighting up times are set to increase by two hours under a proposed new policy by Hertfordshire County Council.

Should the policy be approved, in areas that have LED street lighting installed the hours of darkness will be reduced. New hours or darkness will be 1am to 5am instead of midnight to 6am. The proposal was agreed at the Highways & Environment Cabinet Panel on 14 September and recommended to the Cabinet to approve in October.

Following trials in Stevenage and Watford, the part night lighting is to include a two stage dimming process which offers a cost neutral alternative to the current lighting times.

Under the policy proposals the lights will come on at dusk, then be dimmed by 50 per cent between the hours of 9pm and 11pm. Between 11pm and 1am the light level will be dimmed a further 30 per cent, followed by a switch off between 1am and 5am, then full lighting from 5am until dawn.

The current part night lighting policy was adopted in 2012 as part of our street lighting illumination strategy to reduce energy consumption and our carbon footprint, as well as combating increasing costs.

If adopted, the new proposals are likely to be rolled out to each district as the streetlights are converted to LED. The completion of the LED conversion work is planned for March 2020 and to date around 60 per cent of street lights already have the new street lighting installed.

A series of dimming trials were carried out in differing types of roads to evaluate the effect in a range of situations. The Highways and Environment Cabinet Panel members that attended the trials commented that they were satisfied that they could see and be seen when the lights were dimmed down by 80%. They felt that their eyes adjusted and adapted to the change in natural and artificial light during the period of darkness.

Cllr Phil Bibby, Cabinet Member for Highways and Environment said: “We have listened to our residents’ requests for shorter hours of darkness with regard to commuting and shift working. Accordingly, we have given great attention to an alternative that addresses their concerns but does not increase the cost of the service.

“Our LED street lighting project is well under way with more than 70,700 installed by the start of September. The new lighting contributes to visibility and improvements on the county’s roads as well as cutting the county council’s carbon tax contribution.

“I attended one of the dimming trials and was completely satisfied that the level of lighting was safe and perfectly adequate for the relevant times of night.

“We will continue to explore further dimming options as new areas receive LED street lighting.”