Watford council has been busy replacing street lights. The old yellowish glow has been replaced by a new whiter glow coming from LED bulbs. Our streets have changed, losing their off-colour warmth in favour of a brighter, slightly unnerving coldness.
These lights have come with an unintended consequence. I first noticed it when I went to pick up my wife from the station. It was nearly midnight and as I walked along an alley usually dark and menacing I could hear birdsong. Hidden away in a tree, a lone bird merrily sang its heart out as if it were day. I’ve heard it sing before, though always during daylight hours.
Last night I heard it again, as my wife and I walked back from Watford station under the cold, bright light.
I’m not the only person to experience this. Across the country there are reports of animals being confused by these new lights. What’s more, in some quarters there are concerns the lights could have a negative effect on human health.
Reducing energy consumption is an important goal for society. Yet there is always the risk we create unintended consequences that disrupt our lives and harm our environment. Maybe these LED bulbs will prove to be an act of environmental vandalism carried out on a national scale.