Jump to content

Stargazers Lounge Uses Cookies

Like most websites, SGL uses cookies in order to deliver a secure, personalised service, to provide social media functions and to analyse our traffic. Continued use of SGL indicates your acceptance of our cookie policy.

sgl_imaging_challenge_banner_beauty_night_skies.thumb.jpg.2711ade15e31d01524e7dc52d15c4217.jpg

roundycat

Reducing light pollution

Recommended Posts

Shown below is the gist of my letter to my MP, Bernard Jenkin. Also attached is his reply, received today. Is it really too much to ask that other members write in similar vein to their own MP so we can raise the profile of this curse whilst it is fresh in the minds of new MP's and a new government?

Dennis

Sir,

All over the country and indeed, all across the world, you can see literally millions of buildings that are lit up all night long. There are countless millions of street lights that are so badly designed they shine half their light straight up into the air, to the doubtless benefit of pilots everywhere. On a different scale but no less illogical there are probably millions of poorly designed and positioned security lights on private property that mostly do not need to be on all night. Many of them dazzle or blind road users, I’m sure you have seen them.

Increasing numbers of councils have decided to reduce or switch off street lighting after midnight and the feared and much talked about escalation in local crime has not happened. Independent research, ie, that not connected with the lighting industry, has determined that reduced lighting in public and around private property actually reduces crime. Much of this research comes from the FBI, US police forces and the American military. The findings are all published on the Internet. Many unlit villages around England find the same, keep it dark and crime is near to zero.

Why not encourage this parliament to take immediate action along the lines taken by, I think, Hungary where there is a national policy to reduce light pollution year on year.

1. All unoccupied buildings should have only emergency level lighting on inside.

2. All external lighting such as floodlighting should be reduced or switched off.

3. Any external lighting used by private dwellings should be required to be of a full cut-off design that does not directly light up a neighbour’s property or the adjacent road. There should be a maximum of 300 watts.

4. All street lighting should be of a full cut-off design and should be no brighter than necessary. The current guidelines on illumination need to be reviewed.

5. DIY stores such as Homebase and B&Q should be forbidden to sell any external lighting that is not of a full cut-off design. The lighting industry is letting us down very badly.

In short, we should start our drive to a low carbon economy by switching off some lights. The figures are available for the amount of electricity that would be saved and just for external security lighting it is in the billions. Add into that zero all-night office lighting and reduced street lighting and pretty soon you have saved a couple of nuclear power stations.

Please spend a few minutes reading the first part of the linked web page.

CPRE - Many left angry by skies awash with light pollution

post-15519-133877450799_thumb.jpg

Edited by roundycat

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What about LED light? upgrading from standard light bulbs to LED is big improvement in terms of efficiency and light pollution (untill they aren't pointing up).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dennis,

Ditto Pete's request. A cut and paste job and off we go

Permission please

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please feel free to use whatever part of the text you think is useful but I would suggest paraphrasing as all the letters might end up on the same desk.

Dennis

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's a great reply.

Its very encouraging to note that your local MP has the nous to note that the new coalition is there for a fresh and decent reason.

Good on you and good on him. It would be really appreciated if more MP's took the time to not only read the public's informed and educated letters but to, like we see here, send them on to higher resources and persons who can influence policy and law making.

All the best on this topic.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

127 readers so far. How many of you have written to anyone about this topic since reading this thread. How many of you are so besotted with apathy that you cannot be bothered to do anything.

Councils will soon be desperate to save money any way they can and some have been turning the lights off for a while now. No massive increase in the local crime rate. Write to your council and point this out, there has never been a better time.

Dennis

PS; it's interesting that threads like 'whats your favourite quote' get over a hundred replies and this one merits about six. Where are your priorities?

Edited by roundycat

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Excellent letter from you. Typical non commital reply from an MP.

Something you might like to think about. Most street lights consume 250W. Taking run hours/year and Kg coal to Watt electricty conversion, you come up with an interesting picture. Every street lights requires 372Kg of coal annually to keep it going. This converts to over 800Kg of CO2 in the air. Imagine if you will, a big pile of coal around every street lamp on the street. I can let any of you have full details of the calculations if you are interested. Might even get read by an MP. My County Council, Nottinghamshire, who are responsible for street lights, couldn't care less.

Then successive governments have closed ouyr coal mines and thrown money at coalfield regeneration projects. Now our power stations burn significant amounts of imported coal while ex-miners can't find work.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dennis, you may want to blur out your address on the letter.. ;-)

I'm going to use some of your text to write to my MP. These coal and CO2 calculations would also help if they were included, I think. They might be more convinced by hard numbers which converts to money they can save, rather than the disturbance factor of the lights. David, could you provide some math for this, please?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Dennis, you may want to blur out your address on the letter.. ;-)

I was going to suggest the same.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From my few years working at a local authority it became clear that a) most were unaware of the issue :) most were indifferent unless instructions came from central government regarding it c) on realising there was a chance to save money most became enthusiastic converts to reducing light pollution and d) the enthusiasm disappeared virtually instantly when told of the "Health & Safety" implications (whether valid or not).

Until guidance comes from on high explaining that reduction of light pollution has to happen and absolving the relevant authorities of responsibility for any potential adverse consequences the odds of much happening are slim. Unfortunately it's likely that were such instructions to come down there would probably be a bureaucratic nightmare of procedures to follow making it expensive to do. Couple that with the costs of things like replacing streetlights and forthcoming budget squeezes I don't think the future is particularly bright, well, dim if you see what I mean.

This doesn't include the obvious fact that there may not be thought to be many votes in this for politicians so they're unlikely to stick there neck out to curb light pollution when they're thinking about cutting meals on wheels or schools budgets etc.

Whilst the above makes for depressing reading this is in fact an opportunity. Politicians are sensitive to what their electorate are thinking and unless they hear from the voters that there's a problem it's unlikely to get on their radar so letters such as Dennis has sent must be a good thing....

Finally however ... how many of us are really going to change our votes in council elections or otherwise based on a candidates views on light pollution. Really?

James

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Finally however ... how many of us are really going to change our votes in council elections or otherwise based on a candidates views on light pollution. Really?James

I contacted all the candidates in my election and asked them what they would do about LP if elected. Unfortunately, the only one who did not even bother to reply was the one who got elected.

For all the good it did, yes it did affect the way I voted.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

same here, the only one interested in my view was a libdem.

thats enough of the pols for me.....i will no doubt be sending more E-mails to the local council in respect to LP.

wont be sending written letters as i doubt i will get response and "save the trees an all"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi everyone. Here is an assortment of text from some letters sent to a prospective Notts Conty Councillor, and various others. The council employee response to my protestations was very much along the lines of 'Not up to me - government says so' as reported by James.

I have also sent the council photos of street lights in trees where they have used the wrong type of lamp standard. Suggested dimming and early hours turn off.

MessageAttached is a document downloaded from thre Drax Power Station web site. It details their electricity generation over several years. I have used year 2000 data, as the electricity generation was principally by coal. Later years include a small biomass allowance which would complicate calculations. Given that the same basic equipment is used year on year, the figures for electricity produced per tonne of fuel burnt will be similar. Drax is a very large station, originally designed (in the days of the CEGB) as a 'base load' station. Basically it generates electricity from coal in large quantities more efficiently than smaller stations.

In 2000, the station generated 23000 gigawatt hours of electricity using 8.5 million tonnes of coal. This produced 19 million tonnes of carbon dioxide as well as huge amounts of waste heat and assorted chemicals to the air and nearby waterways.

If you make simple calculations on the gigawatts of electricity and tonnes of coal, you come down to 1 Kilogramme of coal producing 2.7KWh (kilowatt hours) of electricty. In round figures a lump of coal weighing the same as a bag of sugar would run your kettle for an hour. Sounds impressive.

This is by the way the 'factory gate' figure. There will be losses in the distribution network so by the time the electricity is used locally a lower figure than 2.7KWh/Kg would be correct. As I do not have any data for distribution losses, I have not included this in my calculation.

Looking now to street lights. We agree that there are many places in the county with extravagant lighting schemes. What do they cost? Many of the street lights use a 250watt (0.25KW) lamp. The time for which they are run varies with the time of year. Averaging over a year, the sun is below the horizon for half of the time. The lights are usually set to trip on/off on some light level, rather than timers. It is I think reasonable to assume that they run on average for 11 hours out of 24. Multiply this by the 365 days in a year and you get 4015 hours of operation.

A quick bit of maths will show that ONE 250W street light uses about 1003KWh of electricity in a year. To generate this electricity, you need to burn 372Kg of coal. Think of this as more than 7-1/2 large bags of coal piled around every lamp post. The coal when burnt becomes 831Kg of carbon dioxide, as well as a lot of ash to fill old gravel workings.

I leave it you to find the electricity unit cost paid by NCC and so come up with an electricity cost/light. No doubt you know where to look. I do appreciate though that lights require maintenance and eventual replacement so their cost is rather more than just electricity.

Just looking locally. The lighting between Ollerton & Kirton is excessive. Do we really need to be able to read small print while walking on this road? Several lamps could be omitted. Several could have lower power lamps installed. Getting the bulbs out of the trees would be a great help.

If you go to Walesby, the stretch of Retford Road from Smith's garage to the north end of the village has too much lighting. When driving from Retford, after being dark accustomed, the lighting is too bright for comfort. You could probably remove a dozen or so lamps from the east side of the road without adversly affecting the situation.

There are many other cases. The ridiculous 'blackpool illumination' pelican crossing on the A614 at Clumber is a fine example and surely must qualify for some sort of stupidity and waste award.

The above discussion does not take into account the immediate and direct environmental consequences of excessive lighting. Most animals like a dark place to sleep, or forage, or hunt, depending on the animal. Take away these places and you take away the animals. If the light drives away the flying insects, you don't get the bats and frogs who feed on them. The list of links goes on. In less than two years living at Kirton,I have seen a wide variety of animals in or near to my garden. These include many bats, frogs, bullfinches, woodpeckers, sparrowhawks (who feed on the pigeons you saw), fox and deer. Don't allow their environment to be lost.

Tremendous cost & environmental savings are available if common sense is applied.

Drax_environmental_performance_review_2003[1].pdf

post-18944-133877450827_thumb.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well rather than waste my time with my local MP (Ive already done that to no avail) I wrote to the bigman himself :)

I just copied and pasted Dennis's letter (hope you don't mind) and added a few bits.

Nick Cleggs email address is cleggn@parliament.uk

Here's my letter to Nick:

Sir,

Unfortunately we don't have a elected Libdem MP in my local area but our local council IS Libdem controlled, Stockport MBC.

One of your points during the election was that you listen to people and take note on what they are saying, please then take the time ( a few minutes ) to read and absorb this letter.

All over the country and indeed, all across the world, you can see literally millions of buildings that are lit up all night long. There are countless millions of street lights that are so badly designed they shine half their light straight up into the air, to the doubtless benefit of pilots everywhere. On a different scale but no less illogical there are probably millions of poorly designed and positioned security lights on private property that mostly do not need to be on all night. Many of them dazzle or blind road users, I’m sure you have seen them.

Increasing numbers of councils have decided to reduce or switch off street lighting after midnight and the feared and much talked about escalation in local crime has not happened. Independent research, ie, that not connected with the lighting industry, has determined that reduced lighting in public and around private property actually reduces crime. Much of this research comes from the FBI, US police forces and the American military. The findings are all published on the Internet. Many unlit villages around England find the same, keep it dark and crime is near to zero.

Why not encourage this parliament to take immediate action along the lines taken by, I think, Hungary where there is a national policy to reduce light pollution year on year.

1. All unoccupied buildings should have only emergency level lighting on inside.

2. All external lighting such as floodlighting should be reduced or switched off.

3. Any external lighting used by private dwellings should be required to be of a full cut-off design that does not directly light up a neighbour’s property or the adjacent road. There should be a maximum of 300 watts.

4. All street lighting should be of a full cut-off design and should be no brighter than necessary. The current guidelines on illumination need to be reviewed.

5. DIY stores such as Homebase and B&Q should be forbidden to sell any external lighting that is not of a full cut-off design. The lighting industry is letting us down very badly.

In short, we should start our drive to a low carbon economy by switching off some lights. The figures are available for the amount of electricity that would be saved and just for external security lighting it is in the billions. Add into that zero all-night office lighting and reduced street lighting and pretty soon you have saved a couple of nuclear power stations.

Please spend a few minutes reading the first part of the linked web page.

CPRE - Many left angry by skies awash with light pollution CPRE - Many left angry by skies awash with light pollution

I'd also be grateful if you could pass this letter on with maybe your own comments to the Libdem leaders of Stockport who seem hellbent on lighting up 24/7 every council controlled building and amenity in the area, if you drive thru Stockport during the dark hours I think you'd be tempted to put pen to paper yourself.

I thank you for your time in advance.

Regards

George Edge

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One thing about David's letter above seems to me to fly in the face of the first law of thermodynamics - how can a ton of coal produce over twice as much CO2? Or is CO2 heavier than coal?

I don't want people here to lose focus on the argument by silly semantics so I will say this. David mentions being able to read small print in the middle of the night just by the streetlights. This is what is so very wrong. My main point, right from the beginning was that we should turn some lights off. Lighting standards need to be reviewed as well as the design of almost all outside lights being badly in need of revision.

If we write to the councils or whoever and keep hammering this point they will not be able to answer, when asked, how many letters have you had calling for a reduction in lighting to help you (us) save money.

It takes no longer to write to your council than it does to post a message here.

Dennis

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

George, our posts passed like ships in the night! The 'big man' is actually Chris Huhne, the Environment Secretary, and he is supposed to be in receipt of my original letter. Let's hope he doesn't get deja vu!

I was told by my MP's secretary that they are not allowed to 'listen' to non-constituents. It may help to copy your letter to your MP, regardless of his/her colour, and add that it has already been seen by Chris Huhne so maybe your MP would like to be a bit proactive in this matter.

Dennis

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Duly noted Dennis, I'll see what response I get from the deputy prime minister first :)

You never know.........

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I seem to be losing the last posts in this thread, does anyone know why?

Dennis

edit: found them again!

Edited by roundycat

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am working on an article for the school newspaper and I need to research on how the light rail system reduces pollution, besides oviously getting more cars off the road. It would help if someone with expertise on the subject would help.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
One thing about David's letter above seems to me to fly in the face of the first law of thermodynamics - how can a ton of coal produce over twice as much CO2? Or is CO2 heavier than coal?

A CO2 molecule, as the formula suggests, contains one Carbon atom and 2 Oxygen atoms. The Carbon atom comes from the coal and the 2 Oxygen atoms from the air.

So the difference in weight is the Oxygen taken out of the air.

Edited by yesyes

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Do you have a link to the details on the Hungarian light pollution reduction policy Dennis?

My Google-fu is failing me ...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I am working on an article for the school newspaper and I need to research on how the light rail system reduces pollution, besides oviously getting more cars off the road. It would help if someone with expertise on the subject would help.

very hard to read, might want to change the colour of your text :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I am working on an article for the school newspaper and I need to research on how the light rail system reduces pollution, besides obviously getting more cars off the road. It would help if someone with expertise on the subject would help.

That any better? :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.