(MONDAY FEBRUARY 26) RURAL campaigners in Bucks have welcomed a move to switch off street lighting in areas of the county.
Bucks County Council has recently announced the trial scheme in a bid to save energy costs and reduce light pollution.
The chairman of the Bucks branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, Peter Cleasby, says the move is a small step but one that should be welcomed.
"Buckinghamshire suffers from a higher degree of light pollution than the national average, and we hope that other authorities will follow the county council's lead," he said.
Light pollution is caused by excessively strong or badly directed lighting which prevents people from seeing genuinely dark skies. In January, CPRE Buckinghamshire encouraged local people to count the number of stars they could see, as part of a national survey to establish whether light pollution is getting better or worse.
The initial phase of the switching off of selected streetlights is set to get underway shortly. In Aylesbury Vale the sites chosen are the Nash Lee roundabout and the South Street roundabout on the Wendover bypass, and the A421 Radclive roundabout between Buckingham and Tingewick.
If successful, it will be rolled out across the county.
Before the streetlights are turned off, alternative road safety measures will be installed. These include 'intelligent' road studs, electroluminescent traffic signs and improved road delineation.
The initiative has three purposes - to save energy - and, therefore, taxpayers' money - and to reduce both carbon emissions and light pollution. It is estimated that switching off the 300 or so streetlights involved in the first phase will save 15,000 a year in energy costs alone.
County council cabinet member for transportation, Val Letheren, said: "Buckinghamshire is committed to providing the public with the very best that modern technology has to offer. It will reduce our costs and reduce light pollution in the countryside."