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Gale's View

September 16th 2009

The Chief Executive of the British Lighting Association says that there are now energy-efficient halogen lamps that consume around 30% less electricity than those currently in use. He says this in support of the European Union’s determination to phase out incandescent light bulbs and he, presumably, thinks that his Association’s members are going to sell, at an average of 24 bulbs per household, a lot of new light bulbs on the back of EU interference.  He probably also believes, rightly, that a lot of spot lamps and standard lamps and table lamps and other light fittings will have to be replaced as the Bulb Wardens get to work.
The Chief Executive of the British Lighting Association might like to bring a few "green" campaigners and Eurocrats to meet my Mother.  They would find that in her household it is not only the light bulbs that are incandescent!
My mum is in her late eighties.  During the past eighteen months she has lost most of her sight to macular degeneration. She has had to give up the car in which she used to ferry herself and her friends to shops, restaurants and theatres and she is reduced to reading by very bright light and a high-powered magnifying glass.  This combination gives her just enough use of her remaining glimmering sight to allow her to read, in very large print, telephone numbers in the specially constructed directory that has been made up for her and to read the time on her black-and-white clock.  To do this she has to use a standard lamp powering an old-fashioned 100-watt light bulb. She is fiercely independent, determined to carry on living in her own home and wants, as far as is possible, to fend for herself.
When I saw my Mother a couple of weeks ago she was furious at the thought that some clown in an office in Brussels could, at the stroke of a pen and by persuading a supine UK government to introduce (on September 1st) a ban on 100-watt bulbs, remove her remaining vision.  I suspect that there are very many mainly elderly people living in my constituency who, without the resources of one Kent resident who has lain in a 30-year store of 100-watt bulbs, are going to find themselves in similar difficulties.
Yes, we want to cut greenhouse gases and yes we want to reduce the carbon fuel emissions that cause them, But to phase out incandescent light bulbs in haste and before satisfactory alternatives are in place is a nonsense that brings the campaign to end global warming into disrepute.
To suggest, as some have, that energy-saving bulbs only use 20 to 23Watts of electricity to generate the same amount of light as a traditional 100 watt bulb"  is rubbish. They do not.  In addition to taking time to warm up (to the disadvantage of the partially sighted) the "energy saving" light has a green tint and it flickers, to the detriment of those suffering from epilepsy and the near-blind.
Given that there is no enforceable United Kingdom legislation that gives the Government the power to ban the selling of incandescent bulbs I can see no reason for the haste in seeking to implement an ill-thought-through European Directive. Before any switch-over there needs to be clear evidence that the new bulbs work properly, that they do give out sufficient light and that they really do save the energy that is claimed for them.  In the interim, at the very least, there should be a derogation to allow those suffering from epilepsy and the registered blind and partially sighted to continue to have access to the high-wattage light bulbs that they need.  If this is not done then it will only be a question of time before elderly people start tripping and falling in the stygian gloom with consequent injury and possible death.  I cannot believe that that is what even this insane government wishes to achieve.

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