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8 February 2011, 09:36 | Updated: 22 February 2011, 10:45
An energy saving scheme for switching off most street lights after midnight in residential areas has been approved by Dorset County Council's Cabinet.
The full part-night street lighting programme follows an earlier trial in some rural villages and is a direct result of the 23% reduction in Government grants to the county council.
By switching all residential street lights off between midnight and 5.30am, the county council hopes to save 10% of its annual energy bill.
Similar programmes have been implemented by local authorities across the UK.
The scheme will not affect traffic routes, town centres, areas with high crime rates or others with significant highway use after midnight - the lights will remain on all night on these roads.
Every year, the council uses approximately 18.4 megawatts of electricity to power almost 42,000 street lights, illuminated signs and bollards across Dorset. This produces approximately 8,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide and costs approximately £1.87 million a year.
Part-night street lighting cannot be undertaken where there is a legal duty to provide lighting, such as next to a traffic-calming feature.
The council is seeking the input of most town and parish councils to identify any roads that need to remain lit all night.
In 2006, the council entered into a private finance initiative (PFI) contract to provide and maintain street lighting over the next 25 years. The contract included the replacement of the council's aging street lighting stock with more energy efficient lighting over a five-year period.
Peter Finney, Dorset County Council Cabinet member for Highways and Transportation said:
"The county council's street lighting replacement programme should secure energy savings of approximately 15%. However, we now need to obtain larger reductions in our energy bill. Several options were put to members but the part-night operation of most residential roads delivers the required savings."