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Recycling centre slammed for not observing Earth Hour

The offending lighting at Eshiels Road recycling depot in Peebles

The lighting at Eshiels Road recycling depot in Peebles

A recycling depot in Peebles has been accused of wasting money and harming the environment after it failed to switch off a powerful set of floodlights during Earth Hour.

The offending lights in the Eshiels Road depot in the Scottish Borders town were left on between 8.30 and 9.30 pm on Saturday 31 March as the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) encouraged hundreds of millions of people across the globe to extinguish artificial lighting for an hour.

A Tweedale councillor said that omission was symptomatic of a negligent attitude on the part of the Scottish Borders Council (SBC), and had run contrary to the wishes of local residents and councillors, who had asked that Borderers observe the blackout.   

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 a 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.”

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