‘Wasting electricity’: Mayor’s unusual light bulb moment


THE mayor of Byron Shire Council has had a light bulb moment - he wants to investigate switching off street lights to slash power costs and emissions.

Mayor Simon Richardson has proposed a motion at a council meeting today to investigate "the implications and intricacies of turning off residential street lights".

"Of all the energy-saving tips and house cost-saving tips out there, probably the one most often repeated is to turn off the lights when you leave a room," Cr Richardson states in council documents.


Byron Shire Council Mayor Simon Richardson.
Byron Shire Council Mayor Simon Richardson.

"I can hear my father's voice saying this as I type. It's good, simple and effective advice.

"However, most of us look at cities at night and bemoan the fact that every building is lit up making a city glow with light.

"Consider how many street lights are permanently glowing across our shire, consuming electricity when there is absolutely no-one in the vicinity of them; wasting electricity and releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere."

Cr Richardson said it was also important to consider light pollution and "the bigger picture".

"Protecting the night sky from light pollution is critical to the environment, wildlife and our quality of life," he states.


Mayor Simon Richardson’s idea will be included in a Byron Shire Council meeting on Thursday.
Mayor Simon Richardson’s idea will be included in a Byron Shire Council meeting on Thursday.

"The natural night sky is our common and universal heritage, yet it's rapidly becoming unknown to the newest generations."

The unusual motion even includes a quote by post-impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh: "For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream."

Cr Richardson suggests "turning the lights out entirely during the latter part of the night when fewer people are around, or using sensor systems to only provide light when a pedestrian or car requires it".

Alternatively, Cr Richardson wants the council to replace current high-pressure sodium light bulbs with new and energy-efficient light-emitting diodes (LEDs).


Cr Richardson does concede the shire could not put the community's safety at risk.

"What we don't want to do is compromise people's safety at the expense of actually looking at our environmental, financial and quality-of-life objectives," he states.

Cr Richardson pointed to an article by popular website IFL (I F**king Love) Science, headlined "Turning street lights off at night had no effect on the number of road accidents or crime rate".

Staff commented on the motion and said any investigations would involve identifying key stakeholders and reviewing legislative and resourcing requirements.