Sections of the M1 motorway in Bedfordshire will be left in the dark as lighting is permanently switched off to reduce carbon emissions and light pollution.
After assessing the motorway the Highways Agency has decided that stretches of the M1 can be safely unlit between junctions 10 (Luton) and 13 (Milton Keynes).
Derek Turner, director for the Highways Agency, said: "Since 2009 we've switched lighting off between the hours of midnight and 5am on 14 carefully selected stretches of motorways and evidence so far indicates that switching off the lights hasn't had an impact on safety. In March this year we also began permanently switching off motorway lights at three sites.”
The move comes as the 15 mile stretch of motorway is upgraded to reduce congestion and improve safety by using variable speed limits and opening the hard shoulder as an additional lane during peak periods.
Lighting along this stretch is currently in a poor state of repair and under revised standards for lighting on England's motorways and major A roads introduced in 2007, lights would not be installed here if the existing lighting was due to be replaced or if it was opening as a new motorway.
Turner added: "This is not about wishing to remove all lights from the motorway network. It's about carefully identifying the locations where, under the revised guidelines, we would no longer install lighting. The money saved could then be used for other measures on the strategic road network where it would have a more significant safety benefit and potentially save more lives.
"We anticipate achieving an annual reduction in carbon emissions on this M1 stretch of about 810 tonnes. Local communities will also benefit from reduced light pollution of the night sky."
The switch-off started on August 17 and the removal of lighting columns will be carried out in phases until autumn 2012. A low-light CCTV camera system, which is able to operate without motorway lighting, will be installed so Highways Agency staff can monitor the motorway 24-7.