THE lights are going out in County Durham in a bid by a cash-strapped council to save money.
Some street lights on major routes will be removed and dimmable energy-saving bulbs installed in remaining lights to save electricity.
Durham County Council says the “invest to save” plan will help reduce its near £4m annual energy bill for street and other outdoor lighting.
Terry Collins, the council’s director of neighbourhood services, told a meeting of the council’s cabinet that investing in new, more reliable, lighting technology now could save as much as £25m from the capital budget in the coming years.
Mr Collins’ report to the cabinet said: “Some existing street lights on traffic routes in rural areas between towns and villages are unnecessary and can be removed,
“Street lighting is only required by statute in residential areas, restricted speed zones and conflict zones.
“Before any lighting is removed, a full risk assessment will be undertaken to confirm that it is safe to do so.”
The council is stressing that no street lights will be removed from residential areas.
Councillors approved the policy, which will also see some street lights dimmed by 25 per cent between 10pm and midnight and by 50 per cent between midnight and 5am.
Mr Collins’ report concedes the move may be controversial.
Cabinet was told dimming some lights and removing others would also help the council reach its carbon emissions reduction target.