Thursday, 19 January 2012

Clock watching

Over the last few years, our seasons seem to have gone all awry. I had some begonias still flowering in December, yet spring bulbs are bursting into flower already.

Although seasonal temperatures have been confusing, daylight hours have remained unchanged. Currently, we set our clocks to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) in winter, and GMT+1 in summer. Of course, we don’t enjoy putting our clocks forward, but we love the extra hour when we put them back.

I’m backing a campaign called Lighter Later. It has the support of MPs from all parties and from a huge group of organizations – from sport to road safety associations, and from tourism to pensioners’ groups.

Basically, Lighter Later is asking the government to objectively investigate the benefits of moving Britain’s clocks forward one hour throughout the year. So, instead of the current arrangements, we would have GMT+1 in winter and GMT+2 in summer. This would mean that more people are up and about in daylight hours than is the case now.

An extra hour of light is more valuable in the evenings than in the mornings – not least because most people sleep through the first hour of sunlight for much of the year.

There has been lots of research about the impact of various ways of setting our clocks during the year. Moving the clocks forward throughout the year is estimated, among other things, to:

  • Save 80 lives each year and prevent hundreds of serious injuries by making the roads safer – also saving the NHS about £138m each year
  • Create an extra 60-80,000 jobs in leisure and tourism
  • Cut nearly 500,000 tons of CO” pollution
  • Lower our electricity bills
  • Reduce crime and the fear of crime

Lighter Later is campaigning for a three-year trial in which the clocks in Great Britain shift forward by one hour throughout the year. You can find out more information at Tell me what you think.