Glaring “zombie” street lighting, linked by scientists to broken sleep patterns, could ruin our historic city centre, opponents claim.
Canterbury will see the majority of street bulbs changed to energy efficient LED lighting as part of a £40m overhaul of the county’s lamps.
But the brilliant light cast by the bulbs has been likened to a scene from John Wyndham’s classic sci-fi horror The Day Of The Triffids.
Opponents are now questioning whether it will be appropriate for conservation areas and neighbourhoods around Canterbury Cathedral.
Nicholas Newell, who refers to the lights as “the zombie treatment”, said: “We can expect to see the approach to Canterbury Cathedral, the Buttermarket, Mercery Lane, St Margaret’s Street – in fact all central Canterbury’s ancient streets, not to mention scores of other conservation areas across the country – languishing under the cold, relentless glare of industrial estate-style lighting.”
LED lighting is far cheaper to operate than conventional sodium lighting and Kent County Council estimates taxpayers will save around £5 million per year once the work is complete.
But the bulbs have already caused a stir in other parts of the country with opponents claiming they are far too harsh.
Studies have indicated that LED lights disrupt sleep patterns by suppressing the body’s production of the melatonin hormone.
All light consists of different colour combinations, falling within a rainbow spectrum of ‘warm’ red through to harsh blue.
LEDs tend to give off overwhelmingly blue light, say critics. Too much blue light suppresses our biological body clock resulting in lower quality sleep.
Mr Newell suggests newer technology ‘warm’ LED bulbs will soon be available at more competitive prices and that the county council should wait.
KCC spokesman John Todd said: “Health and environmental impacts of LED lighting were considered.
“Our research established that, while concerns have been identified, the findings are as yet inconclusive.”
The council had specified that the new LED lighting should be a ‘neutral white’.
He said: “We feel that, while slightly less efficient, this colour range provides the best combination of light colour and energy savings.”