Legislation about multiple low-cost benefits to the environment, economy and health: What’s there not to like? Friday 3 December 2010 offers MPs the opportunity to move forward on a UK Parliamentary Bill to agree that proper research be conducted into the advantages or otherwise of keeping some form of ‘Daylight Saving’ year-round. But why even bother with the Bill? Why not just research these very positive proposals fully anyway?
It’s Hallowe’en weekend and that precious hour of afternoon light is set to go till next Spring; but perhaps at long last common sense will prevail. With luck and one more push (believe me, over the years there have been many) the spectre of Winter nights starting sometime after lunch will be gone, and the many advantages of keeping British Summer Time (one hour ahead of GMT) will become reality. Research is clear on benefits to energy, health and even lives. Now we need to banish ghosts of mistaken mythology about the disbenefits of ‘daylight saving’…..
Well, hardly had the Publish button been clicked on my last posting, than The Guardian newspaper arrived, announcing that the 10:10
Lighter Later campaign has been launched, to achieve what we have proposed for Daylight Saving and energy conservation on this website for several years. A whole range of politicians and many researchers and other organisations agree that we need to keep BST+ for entirely pragmatic reasons of sustainability, not to mention well-being.
The test now will be to see how soon these claimed good intentions are translated into reality. The more everyone supports such very sensible proposals, the easier it will be for the changes to happen. This is the text of the letter being sent to the Prime Minister:
Dear Prime Minister,
We the undersigned believe that the time is right to look again at moving the UK to “Single Double Summer Time” (SDST), with clocks set to GMT+1 during the winter and GMT+2 during the summer. A large and growing body of evidence suggests that this simple change would bring about a wide range of environmental, social and economic benefits.
On the environmental front, aligning the hours of sunlight more closely with people’s daily routines would yield important reductions in energy use and carbon emissions. Recent research from experts at Cambridge University predicts that shifting to SDST would save around half a million tonnes of CO2 in the winter alone, with substantial extra savings expected in the summer period too.
The social benefits would be equally significant. The Department for Transport has accepted evidence from groups such as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents that advancing Britain’s clocks forward by one hour throughout the year would avoid a hundred deaths and many more serious injuries annually by making the roads safer, especially in Scotland where the winter days are shortest.
Other expected social benefits include a reduction in crime and the fear of crime; an increase in the quality of life for elderly people; increased participation levels in sports and other outdoor activities that make people healthier and tackle obesity; and a reduction in the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder.
The economic case for changing to SDST is strong, too. Industry groups predict a £3.5 billion boost for British leisure and tourism that would create up to 80,000 new jobs in the sector, while the NHS could expect large cost savings through a reduction in road casualties. SDST would also help reduce fuel poverty and lower energy bills by alleviating demand during the evening peak when the cost of generation is highest.
The evidence is clear that the advantages of a move to SDST strongly outweigh the disadvantages. And, as the Department for Transport has noted, the change would be relatively quick and inexpensive to implement. Supporters of the Lighter Later campaign are calling for a three-year trial of SDST in order to prove that we can make better use of the daylight hours.
We ask that you schedule the time to debate this proposal in Parliament at the earliest opportunity, and we very much hope that your Government will lend this positive and ambitious proposal its full support in the House.
You can sign up to support this letter here, at www.lighterlater.org.
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The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), has also been campaigning for SDST for many years (please see below).
You can support RoSPA’s campaign here.
This is their position:
- RoSPA’s Lighter Evenings Campaign
Proposals to amend the system of timekeeping have a long history in Britain, with RoSPA spearheading the campaign for a change that would bring lighter evenings all year round.
Press Release : RoSPA CHIEF URGES SUPPORT FOR LIGHTER EVENINGS CAMPAIGN
In the UK at present, clocks follow Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) from October to March and British Summer Time (BST) which is GMT plus one hour from March to October.
RoSPA has been calling for many years for a move to a system called “Single Double Summer Time” (SDST), which would put the clocks one hour ahead of GMT in winter and two hours ahead of GMT in summer. Complementing RoSPA’s campaign, a move to SDST has been the subject of a number of bills laid before Parliament.
Reducing the number of people killed and injured on the roads is the key aim behind RoSPA’s campaign. The most recent research found that a move to SDST could reduce road deaths by around 80 per year and serious injuries by around 212 per year.
…a move to SDST could reduce road deaths by around 80 per year and serious injuries by around 212 per year.
The Department for Transport’s consultation paper, “A Safer Way: Making Britain’s Roads the Safest in the World”, cited these figures in 2009. It also stated that while moving to SDST would involve a one-off cost of £5million to publicise the change, it would then result in benefits of £138.36million a year due to the reduction in road casualties. It said the cost-benefit case in road safety terms was “clear”, but that the issue went beyond the scope of the strategy consultation.
Also in 2009, the National Audit Office published a report called “Improving Road Safety for Pedestrians and Cyclists in Great Britain”. In a section looking at seasonal road casualty patterns from 2000-2007, the report stated that there were 10 per cent more collisions killing or injuring a pedestrian in the four weeks following the clocks going back than in the four weeks before the clocks changed.
And a report published by the Public Accounts Committee in 2009 stated that there was “substantial evidence” that fewer people would be killed and seriously injured on the roads if the clocks were put forward by one hour throughout the year.
…extra evening daylight protects vulnerable road users like children, the elderly, cyclists and motorcyclists.
The latest findings confirm earlier research which showed that during an experiment which ran from 1968-71, when British Standard Time (GMT + 1) was employed all year round, around 2,500 deaths and serious injuries were prevented each year of the trial period.
The road safety benefits of SDST would be achieved because there are far more road casualties in the evening. Any increase in casualties in the morning during the winter would be outweighed by the reduction in casualties due to an hour of extra daylight in the evenings.
Extra evening daylight protects vulnerable road users like children, the elderly, cyclists and motorcyclists, making them more visible to motorists. Motorists are more tired after a day’s work and concentration levels are lower. Children tend to go straight to school in the morning but often do other things on their way home, increasing their exposure to road dangers. Social trips are generally made in the afternoon and evening.
In 2008, pedestrian deaths in Britain rose from 55 in October to 62 in November – the month in which the most pedestrian fatalities were recorded.
Tourism, leisure and sporting organisations generally support a move to SDST, welcoming the increased opportunities for activity presented by more daylight on weekday evenings – an increasingly important point given concerns about obesity and public health.
The environmental benefits of switching to SDST have also been cited in recent years. According to a Cambridge University study published in 2009, moving to SDST would cut carbon emissions by 450,000 tonnes each year. The energy saved would be equivalent to 85 per cent of all the power generated by wind, wave and solar renewable energy in England.
… it is time for the issue to come off the shelf and for the full implications to be considered.
Tom Mullarkey, RoSPA chief executive, said: “We need to keep the momentum behind this long-running campaign. In view of the reports published in 2009, plus casualty data, we will continue to call for a change which, we believe, would save lives and reduce injuries.
“More pedestrians are killed and injured in the afternoon and early evening than in the morning. Therefore, by moving to SDST, vulnerable road users like children walking home from school would have an extra hour of daylight in which to make their journeys.
“It is time for the issue to come off the shelf and for the full implications to be considered.”
RoSPA recommends a trial is run for 2-3 years to provide objective, up-to-date evidence about the effects of SDST. It would also enable the public and the industry and business sectors which would be affected to experience the change for themselves.
RoSPA continues to encourage pedestrians and cyclists to ensure they can be seen and motorists to watch their speed and keep an extra look out for vulnerable road users.
What will be the fundamental ‘currencies’ of the future? What, if we are serious about global sustainability in all its forms, should these currencies comprise now? It’s likely, if we collectively are ever going to achieve a level of long-term viability for the human race, that we will have to shift the emphasis from money (or the gold standard) to the really basic requirements for life on earth – carbon, water and nitrogen, plus knowledge of all sorts to keep the whole show on the road.
Energy is a commodity with variable value, it seems, depending on where you are. ‘We Greeks,’ said a fellow-traveller on the train as we departed Athens, ‘could have free hot water and free lighting all year; but we prefer to pay… Why put an annual 2000 hours of sunshine to good use, when we can produce energy more expensively in other ways?‘ He was, of course, being ironic.