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Day For Night

Latest press release from Labour member Anne Waithira Burke, issued on Tuesday, September 15th 2020…

At the recent full meeting of Wicklow County Council at the Shoreline in Greystones, the Council outlined plans to introduce LED lighting throughout the county.

It is accepted that considerable savings in the consumption of electricity would be made over the next few years once these plans were fully implemented. We commend such attempts to save money. However, Anne Waithira Burke believes LED lighting can also bring other problems such as light pollution and it is known to cause disturbance to sleep.

Anne Waithira said “Some time ago, a member of the Party alerted the County Council that one of the street lights in the road behind his house was broken. Repairs were then carried out and the previous yellowish light was replaced with a bright blue/white LED light. As a result, because of the angle of the light, his family house is brightly lit up as is his garden and neighbouring gardens. Other
members of the public are also suffering from these bright lights and it is difficult to sleep at night when such light penetrates even
thick curtains. This is a gross intrusion into life here in County Wicklow.

There is growing evidence that such daylight-mimicking street lighting causes considerable problems for both people and wildlife which is outlined below.

“Exposure to such light at night can cause problems with sleep, because the melatonin suppressed by the white light results in
disturbed sleep patterns in humans. Wildlife may also be affected. When such lighting was introduced into the city of Birmingham, it was found that birds began singing in the middle of the night. When people complained that the LEDs were lighting up the front of their houses, Birmingham City Council fitted baffles to the lamp-posts, but this was piecemeal, and not wholly effective.

A recent research linking blue/white LED street lighting to cancer has suggest that in brightly lit areas there is an increase in cancer rates, particularly breast and prostate cancer: these cancers seem to be those involved with hormones. Recent research in Spain has shown that the incidence of breast and prostate cancer increases in areas with bright lighting and furthermore that those residents who live in houses that have shutters do not show this increase. Previous work in Israel had shown that maps indicating high levels of night-time lighting coincided with increases in cancer levels but it was argued that other factors and heightened activity in the brightly lit areas might be the main cause. However, the newer Spanish study seems to confirm the link between cancer and blue-white LED lighting.

The American Medical Association (AMA) has been concerned at the introduction of blue/white LED street-lighting. In 2016 AMA wrote that it wishes to “encourage[s] the use of 3000K or lower lighting for outdoor installations such as roadways. All LED lighting should be properly shielded to minimize glare and detrimental human and environmental effects, and consideration should be given to utilize the ability of LED lighting to be dimmed for off-peak time periods.”

Mrs. Burke says, “There are various solutions to such problems that have been tried elsewhere. For example, in a number of councils in the UK, the lights in suburban residential areas are turned off between 11 o’clock and 6 o’clock in the morning: they are not necessarily turned off at busy road junctions. Fears of an increase in crime because of the darkness have been shown to be unjustified. It was found that some species of bats are not prepared to fly across a white LED lit road so that Worcestershire County Council replaced the white lights with more subdued red lighting.

The party has written to the Director of Services (Transport and Road Infrastructure) asking that the Council explore ways of alleviating such problems – for example, by considering the option of baffling where possible, or turning off or dimming residential street lighting during the night.