Still in the dark over wildlife and Council’s street lighting plans

Back on October 28th we drew attention to the fact that Bexley Natural Environment Forum had expressed its support for the Council’s direction of travel on reduced night-time lighting, and had offered advice on how the greatest benefits for wildlife might be achieved in the process. We recognised that any new hardware would have a long life and that the Council’s financial position meant in any case that it would be years before any further changes of equipment would be made, so it was important to get this right first time round.

http://www.bexleywildlife.org/bexley-natural-environment-forum-statement-of-support-for-reduced-and-more-efficient-night-lighting/

We politely asked whether there had been any persons with biodiversity expertise who had had a formal input to the drawing up of the plans. It will be noted that the Council is legally required to take biodiversity into account in decision making such as this. We have still not had a reply despite asking again. Since it wasn’t taken into account even when drawing up the new grounds maintenance contract, we now have to assume not. We have also asked twice whether the Council is willing to look at our paper and take any of the suggestions on board. Over two months have gone by since our initial e-mail and again we have still not had a response. Much was made by the Council leadership in their preamble to the initial budget cuts consult of the fact that the Council would need to seek greater involvement of volunteers. Unfortunately this failure to answer simple, straightforward questions – even from people attempting to be constructive – is becoming par for the course with Bexley Council, so that it is becoming increasingly difficult to see how any positive engagement can actually be achieved, despite the rhetoric.

Date: 7 November 2015 14:13:29 GMT

<mailto:councillor.alex.sawyer@bexley.gov.uk>

Subject: Re: Support for night light reduction – biodiversity implications

Dear Councillor Sawyer,

Cllr. Craske has kindly forwarded our paper on this to you. We would be  grateful if you could let us know whether or not you are willing to take on board and act on any of the points we have raised, including that of lighting spectra. We would also appreciate you telling us which person or persons with biodiversity expertise has had an input to and given advice on this welcome scheme prior to our communication.

Yours sincerely, Chris Rose. Bexley Natural Environment Forum.

Sat, November 21, 2015 6:33 pm

Dear Cllr. Sawyer,

> Dear Mr Rose,

> Many thanks for your email.

> Picking up on some of the points in your email, LED lighting is more downwardly directing so any use of such lighting will reduce light pollution.

One of our key points is that this is not necessarily true, due to increased scattering of blue light if you do not pay attention to spectrum issues. The blue part of the spectrum is also more disruptive to biological systems, including people. Please follow the links provided in our substantive document – or ask relevant Council officers to do so.

>However, at present there is no Borough wide LED scheme, so  consultation has been limited. If such a scheme were to be implemented then my understanding is that the Council can choose who it wishes to consult with.

No, but one is proposed as we understand it [strictly not Borough-wide as Cllr. Sawyer says, but nevertheless where light standards are to be upgraded, LEDs are proposed, and this does not excuse failing to take biodiversity into account]. We do not dispute that the Council can consult with whoever it likes. What we want to know, given the opportunities this generally welcome plan offers for reducing light pollution impacts on wildlife if properly handled – but possibly making them worse if not – is whether the Council biodiversity officer has had any input to date (and that includes on locations and durations of lighting reduction) or not, or whether anyone else with appropriate biodiversity knowledge has. You have not given a completely clear answer on this point, and we would be grateful for one.

Likewise we would be pleased to hear what assurances you can give that biodiversity impact know-how will be sought before taking this scheme further forward if none has been applied to date.

We also asked whether or not you are willing to take on board and act on any of the points we have raised, including that of lighting spectra. Are you or not?

Thanks, Chris Rose. Vice-chair, Bexley Natural Environment Forum.

Lights blazing at half past ten at night on a school access road next to a known Bat site. Turning lights off, down and minijmisinhg the amount of blue liht emitted can have big environmental as well as cost-saving benefits, says Bexley Natural Environment Forum. (Photo: Chris Rose)

Lights blazing at half past ten at night on a school access road next to a known Bat site. Turning lights off, down and minijmisinhg the amount of blue light emitted can have big environmental as well as cost-saving benefits, says Bexley Natural Environment Forum. (Photo: Chris Rose)

 

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