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THOUSANDS of street lights are being turned off by local authorities, reveals a survey.
Some 3,080 miles of motorways and trunk roads in England are now completely unlit, according to the Sunday Telegraph.
Local councils are switching off lights in a bid to save cash and meet carbon emission targets, it suggests.
Out of 134 councils which responded to a survey, 73% said they had switched off or dimmed some lights or were planning to, the newspaper reported on Sunday (27 October).
The vast majority of councils had chosen to turn lights off at night, at times when they said there was less need for them. Others had installed lamps which could be dimmed.
Local authorities told the newspaper that the move helped reduce energy bills, at a time when energy prices were continuing to rise.
Some councils expect to save hundreds of thousands of pounds by turning off lights at night or converting them to dimmer switches, it said.
Other local authorities said they may not see savings for another four or five years because of the cost of installing new lights, dimmer switches and complex control systems.
Road safety and motoring organisations criticised the policy, arguing that less street lighting would lead to more accidents and more crime.
A spokesman for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents was quoted as saying: "The presence of lighting not only reduces the risk of traffic accidents but also their severity.
"Surveys have show that the public are in favour of street lighting as a way of improving road safety and that, if anything, it needs to be improved in some areas.
"There are economic and environmental reasons why some organisations may wish to reduce the amount of lighting. However there are safety reasons why lighting needs to be available."
In Shropshire, 12,500 street lights are now switched off between midnight and 5.30am, reported the paper. In Lincolnshire, it said some lights were turned off from as early as 9pm.
Leicestershire County Council expected to save £800,000 a year by adapting one third of the county's 68,000 street lights so that they could be dimmed or turned off at night.
But Worcestershire County Council postponed plans to switch off and dim lights after it found it would cost more money to implement the scheme than it would save.
The authority currently pays £2 million a year to run 52,000 street lights but it found that to reduce that bill by £600,000 a year it would need to invest £3.4 million first.
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