Financial and carbon reduction incentives have prompted many local authorities to reduce street lighting at night. Debate on the public health implications has centred on road accidents, fear of crime and putative health gains from reduced exposure to artificial light. However, little is known about public views of the relationship between reduced street lighting and health. We undertook a rapid appraisal in eight areas of England and Wales using ethnographic data, a household survey and documentary sources. Public concern focused on road safety, fear of crime, mobility and seeing the night sky but, for the majority in areas with interventions, reductions went unnoticed. However, more private concerns tapped into deep-seated anxieties about darkness, modernity 'going backwards', and local governance. Pathways linking lighting reductions and health are mediated by place, expectations of how localities should be lit, and trust in local authorities to act in the best interests of local communities.
Keywords: Darkness; Light at night; Public views; Rapid appraisal; Street lighting.
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