Part-night lighting

About part night lighting (PNL)

Over 70% of the over 128,000 council-owned streetlights are operating part night lighting, with certain exceptions that meet the key criteria outlined below.  Part night street lights are switched off between 1am and 5am, Tuesday to Sunday (midnight until 5am on Monday mornings). 

To see which lights we switch off, please view the map below which shows all street lights owned and operated by us and our illuminated signs / bollards.

Exception criteria

Certain locations meeting the exception criteria will continue to be lit through the night, such as:

  • Sites where there are a large number of conflicting traffic movements (eg roundabouts) which are on significant routes (generally those lit by columns greater than 6m high)
  • Sites where street lights are installed as a result of accident remedial measures
  • Town Centre areas where there is one or more of the following features:
    • Publicly maintained CCTV
    • High proportion of high security premises (eg. banks, jewellers)
    • Areas of high crime risk
    • High concentration of people at night such as transport interchanges, nightclubs etc.
  • Main approaches to town centre areas where there is a mix of development between residential and commercial/industrial (eg. not exclusively residential)
  • Sites where the police can demonstrate that there is likely to be an increase in crime if the lights are switched off during part of the night (or that there will be a decrease in crime if the lights are switched back on)
  • Remote footpaths and alleys linking residential streets
  • Where there is a statutory requirement to provide lighting.

Lighting for road signs, traffic bollards etc., are not be affected.

Local agreements

We have a local agreement with Harlow council to maintain all night lights.


Street lights in parts of Epping operate part night lighting between 1am and 5am all week.

Street lighting map

This map only displays the layer that shows our street lighting assets, it does not show street lights operated by others or private street lights. Our Highways Information Map includes more information and layers that may be of interest to you. You will need to accept the terms and conditions before using this map.

Street lights only appear at town level, so please zoom into the map to show the street lights.

Questions and answers

Yes, Essex County Council is empowered as a lighting authority to light roads which in their opinion should be lit. The Council is not duty bound to provide street lighting.

This has been considered but it will not enable the Council to meet its objectives of reducing energy consumption and light pollution. It would also mean lots of variations in the level of street lighting, which is not considered appropriate.

Essex County Council will continue to monitor and trial the development of new technology that is carbon and cost effective.

No, part night lighting is to help reduce Essex County Council’s energy consumption and light pollution.

No, however this initiative may help to reduce any future council tax increases.

All Essex County Council owned street lights have now been programmed to part night operation unless covered by the exception criteria. Some street lights are owned by district councils or parish councils who are responsible for paying the costs of those lights and deciding whether or not part night lighting is appropriate.

The experience to date is that there has been no increase in crime or accident levels which could be attributed to the introduction of part night lighting. Essex Police can ask for lights to be turned back on if they consider that there has been a significant increase in crime due to the introduction of part night lighting. Individual/public requests will not be considered. Crime statistics recorded during the trial showed no significant change due to the installation of part night lighting in the two districts. The number of offences occurring between 11.30pm and 5.30am actually dropped by 14% in Maldon and by 12.6% in Uttlesford. Since the pilot scheme began there has also been no increase in crime statistics or road collisions during the hours of switch off.

The introduction of part night lighting is not based on personal circumstances. Part night lighting has been implemented in accordance with the exception criteria.

Many roads and paths in Essex are not lit at all. The Council cannot light all areas at all times and highway users need to adjust their behaviour according to the prevailing conditions. We do not expect to treat claims arising from accidents occurring when lights are switched off any differently to those arising when the lights are on.

Insurers set premiums, not Essex County Council, based on the risk profile of particular areas. The experience so far is that there will be no increase in crime or road accidents. This is not something which Essex County Council can control.

If you feel your road is covered by the exception criteria please use the online form

The emergency services have been consulted about the plans to install part night lighting and their comments have been carefully considered.

The cost of the installation of a central management system for Essex County Council owned street lights in Essex was £6.5m. This includes the cost of hardware, software and individual photocells for over 127,000 street lights across Essex. It has taken 2 years to install across the County. The savings as a result of part night lighting are in excess of £1m a year. In addition to financial savings, this initiative has contributed to significant reduction in carbon emissions (over 8,000 tons per year) and many operational benefits, including instant failure alerts and a more responsive service.

It is anticipated that energy costs are going to rise over the coming years putting increased pressure on the Local Authority’s revenue budget. Estimates provided by our previous supplier of energy, showed average predicted year on year increase of 6% between 2010 and 2015. However energy prices have in recent history been highly unpredictable and have previously shown high levels of volatility.

The decision for part night lighting in Essex was taken by the Council Cabinet Members following a trial in the Districts of Maldon and Uttlesford during which street lights were switched off between the hours of midnight and 5am.

The move to part night lighting has not been taken lightly, and views have been sought from District, Borough and Parish Councils as well as the Emergency Services when determining which lights should be switched to part night lighting.

Residents were not directly consulted by Essex County Council; however, news coverage over the past few years notified the public that the part night lighting scheme would be introduced across Essex. Where residents have fed back views, these have been considered and responded to.

There are no plans to review the principles of part night lighting in Essex. Once the implementation of part night lighting is completed and bedded in, a period of reflection on operational concerns will take place with decisions made at that point.

This has been considered but will not enable the Council to meet its objectives of reducing energy consumption and light pollution.

This has been considered but will not enable the Council to meet its objectives of reducing energy consumption and light pollution.

Part night lighting is now in effect across Essex.

Essex County Council does not have a statutory obligation to provide street lighting; street lighting is in place to light the highway network.

There are less traffic movements between these hours and road accidents during this timeframe are considered low. However, the exception criteria require lights to be lit where this is a recommendation of road safety engineers or where lights were originally installed as an accident prevention measure.

People may fear that they are at an increased risk of crime although there is no evidence that there is an increased risk.

This is important because fear of crime can influence people’s behavior – for example by deterring them from going out after dark. People may also feel less safe at home. Since 2006 the Council has undertaken regular surveys of public attitudes. The survey questions were originally prescribed by the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Council was required to carry out a postal survey of a balanced sample of residents (although each resident is randomly selected). One of the questions in the survey asks people if they feel safe in their own area outside after dark. Results of the study show that between 2006 and 2013 Uttlesford and Maldon districts both experienced a significant increase in people who say they feel safe after dark. Unfortunately, this survey was not conducted before 2006. The results clearly show that the introduction of part night lighting has had no long term impact on fear of crime. Indeed the increase in the percentage of people feeling safe outside after dark has increased in Maldon and Uttlesford more than in other areas. As previously explained above regarding public safety – consultation with the Emergency Services has been conducted and in addition, an Equality Impact Assessment has also been conducted in line with Essex County Council’s change processes, this considers the risks to protected groups.


An important consideration in the decision on implementation of part night lighting is the impact on crime. Under the Crime and Disorder Act the Council is under duty to exercise its various functions with due regard to the likely effect on crime and disorder in its area. This is not a duty to reduce crime but a duty to take the need into account when making decisions. The experience in the Districts of Maldon and Uttlesford provide evidence that the introduction of part night lighting has not had any impact on crime. In fact crime in both districts has fallen since 2005 (the year before part night lighting was introduced). If part night lighting was responsible for an increase in crime then one would expect to see overall crime trends to be higher in districts which introduced part night lighting.

Essex County Council does not have a statutory obligation to provide street lighting; street lighting is in place to light the highway network.

Part night lighting as a concept is not new; it has operated in West Sussex since the energy crisis of the 1970's. In recent times Suffolk, Hertfordshire, Nottinghamshire, Dorset, Bath and North East Somerset have introduced part night lighting.

Significant carbon and light pollution or ‘sky glow’ reductions across Essex.