Lights earn black mark for green centre

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EDINBURGH Castle managed to switch off its lights, as did the Sydney Harbour Bridge, but a Peebles recycling centre has been charged with failing to contribute to Earth Hour by leaving on a set of powerful floodlamps.

A Tweeddale councillor has accused Scottish Borders Council of wasting money and harming the environment by leaving on the bulbs all day and for hours after it is shut.

Earth Hour is supported by the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF), as well as SBC. During it, hundreds of millions of people across the globe turned off their lights for an hour between 8.30pm and 9.30pm on Saturday.

But the Eshiels roads depot and recycling facility did not take part, despite the council urging Borderers to sit in darkness as part of Earth Hour’s bid to highlight climate change.

Councillor Catriona Bhatia said: “Local residents and I have tried for several years to get the council to switch off or reduce the lighting at the depot when it is not in use but our efforts seem to have been ignored. Even during Earth Hour, which SBC is meant to support, all the floodlights were on till 10pm at night.

“This is a complete waste of taxpayers’ money, not to mention the environmental impact.”

An SBC spokesman said the local authority had supported Earth Hour for the past three years, but since it takes place on Saturday night, its offices had switched off their lights for 60 minutes on Friday.

He added: “There has never been any intention or arrangement made to switch off external lighting at council owned buildings and depots during the official Earth Hour on the Saturday evening.

“Consideration was given to this when SBC first committed to supporting this event but the feedback from various parties was that it was either not possible to switch off at certain locations without incurring significant additional costs, and health and safety was a key consideration.

“There could be additional risks incurred by switching off during this hour of darkness in March – including security of premises, fuel and equipment at the sites.”

Mrs Bhatia replied: “Notwithstanding that, why would lights need to be on from 4pm to 10pm when the recycling centre is closed?

“Minimal lighting for security is understandable but fully floodlit premises is excessive.

“The security argument does not stack up anyway as the lights are switched off from 10pm till the morning.

“And the floodlights were on during the day last week when it was bright sunshine.

“It is also odd that the Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh Castle and even Sydney Harbour Bridge were able to have their lights switched off for Earth Hour without security or health and safety issues.”

Fellow Liberal Democrat council candidate in Tweeddale West, Nancy Norman, said: “In these times of reducing budgets, switching off the depot lights at Eshiels would be a good place to start in tackling financial and environmental waste.”