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When was the last time you experienced a truly dark, star-filled night sky, even in the countryside? Or saw the beauty of the Milky Way clearly?

New research published today by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine has not found a correlation between reduced street lighting and increased crime and road accidents. The study was based on 14 years of data supplied by 62 local authorities in England and Wales who had implemented street lighting strategies, including switch off or part-night (commonly between midnight and 5am) lighting schemes, dimming or installing new energy efficient lighting.

Emma Marrington, CPRE’s Senior Rural Policy Campaigner says:

“CPRE welcomes the findings of this research as it will help address concerns that reduced street lighting means increased risk of crime or road accidents. We’re well aware that it’s an emotive subject as many people believe that less lighting will put their personal safety at risk, but the research has shown that dimming street lights may actually reduce crime.

“Our own survey of 83 English local authorities, published as Shedding Light (2014), also found no clear link between reduced lighting and crime. The councils were in close contact with local police forces to monitor any incidents and said they would re-light any area at the request of the police. Of course, community engagement is vital when local authorities are considering part-night lighting and switching off street lighting. We also found that the main reason for considering reduced street lighting is energy and cost saving, with the reduction in light pollution coincidental.”

CPRE has campaigned to reduce light pollution for many years: darkness at night is one of the key characteristics of rural areas and it represents a major difference between what is urban and what is rural. But light doesn’t respect boundaries; it can spread for miles from the source and blurs the distinction between town and country. New technologies, such as centrally controlled dimming schemes, can help ensure that the right lighting is used only where and when it is needed, in turn reducing the amount of light spilling up into the night sky.

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