Recently in BST: British Summer Time & 'Daylight Saving' (The Clocks Go Back & Forward) Category

Sunrise over an urban park, from a window This is the day and date when the clocks go 'back'. We have an extra hour in bed on Sunday morning, and then... darkness an hour earlier until next Spring. And most of us will miss the dawning of the day as well, since the majority of people in the UK no longer keep agrarian hours. So let's do something about using daylight in the best way, in the modern world: Sign the No 10 Petition for 'better use of sun'.

The petition for 'Daylight Saving' - i.e. keeping British Summer Time (BST) all year long - is here [http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/betteruseofsun/].

We have already discussed in detail on this website the safety, energy, health, leisure and other benefits of not going into the grimness of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) every Winter. Let's make it clear that (as is in fact the case according to surveys *) most of us would welcome a continuation of 'summertime' hours.

Watching beautiful sunrises and sunsets offers aesthetic reasons for keeping summertime hours. But there are many hard-headed reasons too; and if you still doubt this, just check out for yourself with bodies such as RoSPA - or indeed read the views of Sir Stuart Hampson, who, as chairman of the John Lewis Partnership from 1993 to 2007, surely knows a thing or two about looking carefully at the facts.

Who can really argue, when the evidence is so clear? In Sir Stuart's words,

Daylight is precious. Let's stop wasting it. If we didn't put the clocks back we could cut crime, keep fitter - and reduce carbon emissions.

And enjoy more sunrises....

Sunrise and sunbeams through trees on a frosty morning

* 4,215 people took part in an online vote on RoSPA’s website between 24 October and 2 November 2006. The vast majority (86%) supported this change. Of those who voted, 3,625 voted ‘Yes’, 548 voted ‘No’ and 42 voted ‘Don’t Know’.


Dates for 2008 - 2011 when at 2 a.m. the clocks go back (October) and forward (March) by one hour in the UK are:

In 2008: the Sundays of 30 March and 26 October
In 2009: the Sundays of 29 March and 25 October
In 2010: the Sundays of 28 March and 31 October
In 2011: the Sundays of 27 March and 30 October


Read more about BST: British Summer Time & 'Daylight Saving'

Blue sky & pink summer blossoms We've reached the Summer Solstice or Longest Day, but still the demand for more evening light, energy savings and greater road safety yearlong won't go away. Now it's the turn of Senators in Jersey to try to align their community with Central European Time, which we Brits call Double Summer Time. And U.K. politicians too are thinking again. Given the many benefits of CET, let's hope this time endorsement of the idea is compelling. Perhaps where Jersey leads the U.K. may follow? ...

The Channel Islands, Guernsey and Jersey, enjoy a close connection with France, lying just off the French coast of Normandy. But whilst these very pleasant isles are not in the United Kingdom, they are geographically part of the British Isles and largely English-speaking, with a strong financial link to the U.K. economy.

It is very interesting, therefore, that Jersey is to hold a referendum on proposals to move the island to Central European Time.

This is so-called Daylight Saving with serious intent. Central European Time is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time in the Summer, and one hour ahead in Winter.

A long-contested idea
This proposal has been around for many years, in Jersey and Guernsey, and in mainland Britain.

The ideas behind the proposal have been well rehearsed, whether in the U.K. Parliament, repeatedly by RoSPA, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, or indeed on this very website.

We know, as RoSPA constantly reminds us, that moving permanently to lighter evenings would overall reduce accidents, enhance health (more opportunities for exercise), help the economy -especially the evening economy, and tourism - and save energy.

Public support
In the U.K., more people support the change to Central European Time than do not; and even in Scotland, location of the darkest mornings and as it happens also the most SAD: seasonal affective disorder, at least 40% are still in favour of change. (Tim Yeo's proposed but failed Bill of 2007 accommodated demands that the U.K. devolved administrations, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, could opt out of CET anyway, should they so wish.)

But still the foot-dragging continues, with a feeling in some quarters that it's 'not British' to adopt CET, or maybe that it's an affront to our agrarian heritage.

Changing mood?
But the new element in all this is that the Conservatives - often hostile to anything 'European' - are now reported to be thinking of adopting proposals for CET (i.e., 'Abandon Greenwich Meantime', in the words of The Telegraph) in their next manifesto.

A way to CET?
Well, I really hope this happens. It has been said that Jersey, whilst keen to move to CET, is worried about how things will work out if the U.K. doesn't do the same.

If we can somehow forget odd ideas about Britishness and 'Europe', and instead concentrate on issues of environmental sustainability, health and safety, we will do much better.

One way to start would be to move swiftly to Double British Summertime in Summer, as part of the change to adopt Central European Time throughout the year.

Read more articles on BST: British Summer Time & 'Daylight Saving' (The Clocks Go Back & Forward)

08.3.25 Two clocks 129x133 017a.jpg U.K. clocks go forward on Sunday morning, 30 March '08, and the lighter evenings which British Summer Time brings will cheer up almost everyone. But there would also be many other anticipated benefits, from road safety to energy conservation and healthier lifestyles, were we to keep 'Daylight Saving' all year. A Downing Street petition has now been set up to urge a continuous BST trial period of three years, with research to establish the extent of these benefits.

'Daylight Saving' is an issue which won't go away. And now there's a Petition to the Prime Minister, asking him to not to let that precious extra hour of afternoon light go away in the Winter either.

Downing Street petition
The Downing Street petition aims to 'make better use of the limited daylight we receive'. It reads as follows:

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to consider a change to the current system of British Summer Time / Greenwich Mean Time (BST/GMT). This could consist of a trial period (similar to that adopted 1968 to 1971) and could take the form of a move to year round BST, or a 1 hour shift to GMT+1/GMT+2. Research shows that such a move could reduce carbon dioxide emissions, reduce road deaths, facilitate business with Europe, potentially boost tourism, increase outdoor activity, promote healthier lifestyles and enhance the well being of UK citizens.

You can read more detail of the Petition, and / or sign it, here.

BST Facebook group
There is also a Facebook group, set up like the Downing Street petition by Dave Alexander, which seeks to 'raise support of and debate the possibilities and benefits regarding changes / trials of different time zone options for Britain.....This could reduce carbon dioxide emissions, reduce road deaths, facilitate business with Europe, potentially boost tourism, increase outdoor activity, promote healthier lifestyles and enhance the well being of UK citizens.'

An enduring idea
This is by no means a new proposal, as we have already established very firmly on this website, but the need to get some action becomes greater with each year. If further debate is needed, the BST: British Summer Time & 'Daylight Saving' section of this weblog remains a forum where everyone from the South coast to scattered Scottish isles is welcome to share their ideas.

Discussion is however no substitute for evidence-based action. Health, energy sustainability and accident prevention are too important to ignore.


This article was also published as a New Start external blog.

Read more: BST: British Summer Time & 'Daylight Saving' (The Clocks Go Back & Forward)

Dusk at Aigburth Vale 07.10.27 116b 95x125.jpg 'Incremental' is the mode of choice when we talk about the massive changes required for the sustainability of ourselves and our planet. People find it hard to make large or sudden changes, so we try to do them bit by bit. Seen like this, the benefits of daylight 'saving', keeping lighter evenings, become increasingly compelling.

The big health news of the past week or two has been obesity... how it's becoming an epidemic and how difficult it will be to reverse the demands which people being overweight put on the health services and on the exchequer.

Then we are told that we must conserve energy in every way possible. Carbon expenditure must, urgently, be reduced, climate change is happening even more quickly than we had thought.

Looking for solutions
In these contexts it is surprising that the sensible advice about behaviour adaption - go gently, to take people with you - has not yet been applied to the benefits of 'daylight saving'.

We know that lighter evenings offer more encouragement for people to take exercise; we know that the extra light also reduces fuel demands. (Jim Fiore estimated recently that in the US context 'only' 0.25% savings would be achieved - but that's a massive amount of oil which could be conserved with no effort by anyone.)

Joined up thinking
The clocks go back on Sunday, tomorrow, 28 October, at 2 a.m. From then on until next March (British Summer Times begins on 30 March, with the new US Daylight Saving Time starting on 9 March) we shall have afternoon murk.

Scottish farmers may be happy with these murky afternoons, and they are of course welcome to any arrangement the Scottish Parliament wants to make. For the rest of us, a bit of (evening) light needs to be shed on the subject of incremental health and energy improvements.


The full debate about BST is in the section of this website entitled
BST: British Summer Time & 'Daylight Saving' (The Clocks Go Back & Forward).....


See also:
Making The Most Of Daylight Saving: Research On British Summer Time
Save Our Daylight: Victor Keegan's Pledge Petition
The Clocks Go Forward...And Back... And Forward...
British Summer Time Draws To A Close
Time Is Energy (And 'Clocks Forward' Daylight Uses Less)
The Clocks Go Forward ... But Why, Back Again?

Join the discussion of this article which follows the book E-store...

Dusk in town (small) 80x91.jpg British Summer Time begins at 2 a.m. on Sunday 25th March this year (2007). Surveys suggest that both safety and energy saving would ensue from BST year-round, and a large majority of people will welcome the lighter evenings. But why have we just had to endure five months of days which end before the afternoon teabreak?

The evidence becomes ever more compelling.... As the Transport Research Laboratory has demonstrated over many years, British Summer Time is indeed best for almost all of us.

There are inevitably risks in any change, but sometimes the biggest risk lies in Doing Nothing. That's what applies to the odd practice of reducing afternoon daylight (in favour of 'lighter mornings') at the very point in the year when there is already least of it.

The 1968 - 71 'experiment'
The oft-recycled stories about children 'hating' having to wear fluorescent jackets because of the super-dangerous mornings during the 'experiment' of 1968 - 71 are selective recall, I'd suggest. I don't think I ever saw one child so clad.

But the debate goes on. And recently, as the TheyWorkForYou.com website admirably demonstrates, Tim Yeo MP has been proposing Single / Double Summer Time, which has incensed some even more.

The Scottish dimension
We know of course that there are people in Scotland who would prefer to keep the status quo, regardless of the proven greater overall risks of accidents, depression and poor health, but with devolved government, as Tim Yeo and before him Lord Tanlaw acknowledged, these can surely be addressed by those most involved.

But even in Scotland opinion is divided and the evidence for the status quo doesn't fully stack up (unless Scottish cows have learnt to tell the time and will rumble their herdsman adjusting the alarm clock to keep their bovine stock's milking hours stable...).

The evidence
As Tim Yeo and Lord Tanlaw have emphasised, even in Scotland there are plenty of people who would prefer the lighter evenings, whilst YouGov have found (December 2006) that 51% of workers feel less safe travelling home in the dark, with 71% of women saying the dark makes them feel uncertain and worried.

Likewise, when Victor Keegan ran a campaign a few months ago, he easily achieved his objective of 50 people asking their MPs to support Tim Yeo's bill. On energy saving grounds alone there are compelling reasons to suppose we should abandon British Mean Time. A majority of those voting supported it, but Tim Yeo's non-party Bill fell on 26 January 2007 because it did not gain more than one hundred votes.

Another way forward?
So what's holding things up? There are rather feeble claims (see TheyWorkForYou.com, as above) that an experiment in Portugal was not successful, but perhaps political nervousness about Scottish issues is, short-term, at the heart of the matter.

There is, however, a very simple and easy way to resolve things once and for all. Why not actually undertake a serious Government-led enquiry into all the evidence available, on energy, accidents, health, business and other impacts, examining England (and Wales and Northern Ireland) separately from Scotland?

And let's ask for the report to be produced by Sunday 28 October 2007, before the next grim return to Winter darkness, when British Summer Time is due to end. This, it seems to me, is a genuinely good example of when policy can indeed be informed by best practice in natural and social scientific research.
It really does need to be done, and soon.


The full debate about BST is in the section of this website entitled BST: British Summer Time & 'Daylight Saving' (The Clocks Go Back & Forward).....
See also:
Save Our Daylight: Victor Keegan's Pledge Petition
The Clocks Go Forward...And Back... And Forward...
British Summer Time Draws To A Close
Time Is Energy (And 'Clocks Forward' Daylight Uses Less)
The Clocks Go Forward ... But Why, Back Again?

Read the discussion of this article which follows the book E-store...

Street light halo (small).jpg An online pledge-petition has just been created in support of lobbying MPs for the experimental introduction of 'daylight saving'. Twenty-first century climate change, with its requirement that we save energy wherever possible, makes the need for this proposed three-year experiment even more pressing.

I've timed this blog to come on-stream at a very particular point in the year - the exact date and time (in 2006, Sunday 29 October at 2 a.m.) when the clocks go back one hour for the duration of the Winter. It's an hour when I hope I shall not be paying much attention, but also one that many of us anticipate at best with unease. The extra hour in bed tomorrow morning is great; the prospects daylight-wise from now until the end of March are not.

Rethinking daylight for the 21st Century
There are various moves afoot to keep this issue in the public eye. There's a bill (probably about to expire) in the Lords, and just this morning (Saturday 28th October '06) there was news that the Local Government Association has joined the Policy Studies Institute in predicting a reduction in accidents and other unpleasant things if we moved the entire day forward by one hour throughout the year - which would mean one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time in the Winter, and two hours ahead ('Double Summer Time') for the rest of the year.

And now we have the blog-petition: SaveOurDaylight is an extension of the debate which surprises me not at all. It's organised by Victor Keegan, who has also written a piece for The Guardian's Comment is Free on the issue.

Mr Keegan has pledged to write to his MP about this if 50 other people sign up to do the same. My guess on the basis of the enormous interest in the 'clocks go forward / back' entries on this website is that he will need to be looking for his pen and paper before too long at all.

The benefits are real
Of course there are a few people in any situation for whom change brings problems, but the evidence favouring change so far is overwhelming. And that's before we even seriously get to the environmental advantages -now critical, but not much factored in during previous examinations of the benefits of so-called 'daylight saving'. In my books the challenges of climate change really have to be the clincher.

The petition is there to be signed. Go for it!

As I keep saying, it really is a win-win.


The full debate about BST is in the section of this website entitled BST: British Summer Time & 'Daylight Saving' (The Clocks Go Back & Forward).....

Dusk @ Speke (small).jpg One hundred years ago a London builder, William Willett, decided to cost 'Daylight Saving' hours in terms of health, happiness and energy. Judging from the MSN and Google search engine referrals, many of us would like to see the same thing happen again.

To my amazement the MSN search engine has been listing one of this website's articles on 'Daylight Saving' as around number one of over 347,000 entries (the article's also 7th of 21,000+ for Google). Obviously, there's a lot of interest in this topic!

Daylight saving in another age
The strange thing is, as I've now discovered, it all came about in the first instance because of a London builder, William Willett (1856 - 1915) who was riding on Chislehurst Common in Kent one Summer morning in 1905, and realised that a lot of people were still abed, with their curtains drawn. This was more than Willett could take, so at his own cost he published a pamphlet (not an uncommon thing to do in those days - probably the equivalent of a media release now?) entitled The Waste Of Daylight, in which he extolled a complicated way of 'extending' daylight hours by making Summer Time 'later' in the day.

Willett's ideas only became law in 1916, during the First World war and after his death (and then in a less complex mode), when the idea began to make sense in terms of energy saving at that time - though the benefit was short-lived because every country on both sides of the combat then also adopted it.

The cost-benefit analysis, 1907-style
Today, there are many who believe that Willett was right about British Summer Time, but quite wrong in thinking that we should have British Standard Time (i.e. 'Winter Time') at all. Willett argued that Summer Time would be healthier and happier for everyone, who could enjoy the lighter Summer evening and the leisure opportunities the 'extra' hour afforded. Even more impressively, he costed the economic benefits of the manoeuvre (£2.5 million p.a. in cash terms then, after lighting cost adjustments). And all this at his own expense.

Contexts change
What is deeply puzzling to many people is that this careful cost-benefit analysis has not been applied as carefully to our contemporary world. Willett wrote his pamphlet at a time when gas lighting was the norm, and when motor cars had barely been invented. At that time much more of the British economy was land-based and evening paid-for leisure activities were probably far less in demand than now.

So why has there been no more recent work on this? Where is the contemporary data which gives a full appraisal of the costs of having 'Winter Time'? No longer can we even just think about what suits, and what is most safe and healthy for, us as individuals.... more 'feel good' serotonin, or more 'sleepy' melatonin? Safer journeys in the morning or in the evening?

Now even these judgements do not suffice; we have constantly and urgently to think also of what is least costly to our planet.

Judging from the current interest in this topic on the worldwide web, a lot of people would agree with me and many other commentators: the time has come to follow the example of a London builder of a century ago, and think anew about Daylight Saving and its benefits.

Clock (small) 06.9.5 002.jpg The nights are drawing in, and the debate is beginning once more... Must we really turn our meagrely lit afternoons into even more gloom? Maintaining the extra hour of afternoon daylight year-long, over and above British Standard Time (BST), well compensates most people for even darker mornings, as reports by RoSPA amongst others have demonstrated. The net benefits to the economy, energy savings, health, safety and, for instance, for the leisure industry, would be many.

Already talk is turning to the dreaded day that The Clocks Go Back - this year, Sunday 29 October at 2 a.m, in the U.K.. What daylight we may have enjoyed at 4 p.m. on 28th October will now be our allocation for just 3 p.m. on Sunday 29th; and it will get a lot worse before it gets any better, in March next year, when British Summer Time returns.

Why can't we just keep to British Summer Time (BST; confusingly the same initials as the 1968-71 trial British Standard Time)? British Summer Time is Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) plus one hour. The evidence shows benefits on balance would be an improvement in our overall quality of life. It's been tried, from 1968-71, and it worked. And that was before issues around energy saving etc were deemed critical as well.

Background information
The background to the current situation, and the cost-benefits for health, safety, environmental sustainability, the economy, leisure activities and much else have had a good airing on this weblog:
The Clocks Go Forward (But Why, Back Again)?
Time is Energy (and Daylight uses Less)

The debate will continue
This is not an issue which is going to go away, so perhaps The Time Has Come for the Big Debate on this? In our eco- and economy-driven age, we can no longer simply do things as fundamental as this in a given way just because it's the status quo.

The full debate about BST is in the section of this website entitled BST: British Summer Time & 'Daylight Saving' (The Clocks Go Back & Forward).....

Read the discussion of this article which follows the book E-store...

Dawn (small).jpg'Daylight saving' is a strange notion. But 'daylight energy saving' is a very different consideration. How we arrange the hours of light and darkness across our working day has many impacts - which makes it all the more curious that so little high profile or current research has been focused on British Summer Time and rationales for why the clocks 'go back' in the Winter.

My recent piece on British Summer Time has drawn a lot of comment, both on and off this website.

Highway at night.jpgThere are people who seem simply not to mind whether / when it's light or dark as they go about their daily business, but there are many others who have responded quite strongly in terms of their need for as much daylight as possible. It must be very helpful in some ways not to mind how dark it is, but it's quite incomprehensible to others that there are folk who genuinely 'don't mind'. Perhaps it's rather like being 'colour blind' - if you don't perceive the difference between red and green you just accept (and may not even know about) it; or maybe some of us have physiologies which are more photo-sensitive than others.

Daylight saving is energy saving
The most important thing to come out of the discussions so far, however, is not that people may have different personal preferences, but that the terms of engagement in this debate are becoming clearer.

One striking aspect of so-called 'daylight saving' which is emerging, alongside the prime safety considerations, is its significance not only potentially for business efficiency, but also, even more crucially, for energy. It does begin to look very much as though more 'summertime' would keep energy consumption down.

Where's the evidence?
A big surprise in all this is the paucity of serious publicly available evidence other than on safety (avoidance of accidents). It seems in some respects that the last substantial governmental research in this area was conducted in 1989.

That was now seventeen years ago. Since then, it need hardy be said, much has changed.

Business and technological practices are much different from those dismal years of two decades ago. Our consciousness of the energy crisis and of ecological issues is far better developed now than it was then. The public (electorate) is now far more aware of the issues of sustainability than they could possibly have been in the 1980s.

What's the cost-benefit of 'daylight saving'?
So where is the cost-benefit analysis of the different ways in wihich we might distribute the eternally pre-ordained number of daylight hours we have at our disposal, summer and winter? Common sense suggests that arranging things so there's as much daylight as possible in the hours when most people can use it is a good start.

If anybody really knows the answer, please just let us know!

The full debate about BST is in the section of this website entitled
BST: British Summer Time & 'Daylight Saving' (The Clocks Go Back & Forward).....

Read the discussion of this article which follows the book E-store...

Sefton Park 06.6.3 039 Straited sky.(small) jpg.jpg British Summer Time is welcomed by almost all of us - more daylight when we can use it is much appreciated, as Lord Tanlaw's proposed 'Lighter Evenings (Experiment) Bill' acknowledges, for reasons of health, safety, energy savings and business benefit. So why do we need to revert to the darkness next Autumn? The answer appears to be historical drag, a reluctance to be 'European', and an obdurate insistence by some of national identity over common well-being.

Like 99% of the rest of the UK population, I'm really looking forward to the extra hour of evening light which will be ours as of this weekend. We may lose an hour of sleep just one Sunday morning, but then we get months of beautiful daylight at hours when we can actually enjoy them. It can't come too soon.

It was always a huge puzzle to me why the 'experiment' to keep British Summer Time all year seemed to go so badly wrong when it was tried in 1968 to 1971. Then I learned that it was nothing to do with sensible allocation of daylight hours for nearly all of us - it was essentially a sop to the Scottish Highlands, where apparently people demanded the right to dark evenings for us all, so that they had a bit more daylight in the morning.

Why Highlanders couldn't just adjust their working day a bit if they so like first light, is beyond me.

Safety - and Health - take a back seat
Since the missed opportunity of thirty five years ago, things have moved on. We now know about SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and about the net increase in accidents - acknowledged in many countries - which wintry Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) brings in its wake - even for Scotland.

So there really is no excuse for any failure to support Lord Tanlaw's current private Parliamentary Bill to adopt Single Double Summer Time (SDST) for an experimental three years from 29 October this year. The idea has the support of ROSPA (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) and of PACTS (the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety) - who jointly last tried to effect such a change via Nigel Beard MP's 10-minute bill in 2004. The previous time the change to all-year so-called 'daylight saving' was attempted before that was in 1994, with a Bill promoted by Nigel Waterson MP.

This debate has therefore now emerged as a matter of both safety and, equally importantly, health. The epidemiology of the proposed time shift suggests that it would not only reduce accidents, but also promote health; people would be more active in the winter, with beneficial effect to both physical and mental well-being.

My national identity before my health (and yours)?
The debate seems to boil down to two lines of argument:

Firstly, that it is the inalienable right of Scots people to conduct their morning farming activities in daylight - a 'right' which would be preserved in Lord Tanlaw's bill, because it expressly accedes that the Scottish (and Ulster and Wales) Parliament/s could adopt current 'winter time' if they so determined; and

Secondly, that this is some sort of 'European plot', against farmers milkman and postal workers (...), foisting 'non-British time' on us - despite the additional difficulties which British 'local' winter time causes for companies seeking business across both Europe and wider afield. (It's rather a surprise to learn in Hansard 8 Dec. 2004, Column 584W, that the Department of Trade and Industry has not conducted much research since 1989 (Cm 722) on potential economic and social effects of the 'biannual time change'.)

Don't play politics against common sense
Let us put aside the obvious issue that very few indeed of us live on farms (and that for many the sight of a postal worker before 10 a.m. - or a milkman at all - causes astonishment these days) and just focus on the facts.

Health and safety are what make our lives better. Not nationalities. And who wants his or her national identity to be seen as an obstacle to healthier and safer lives anyway?
~ ~ ~
The full debate about BST is in the section of this website entitled
BST: British Summer Time & 'Daylight Saving' (The Clocks Go Back & Forward)..... Specific articles include:
Making The Most Of Daylight Saving: Research On British Summer Time
The Clocks Go Forward... And Back... And Forward...
SaveOurDaylight: Victor Keegan's Pledge-Petition
British Summer Time Draws To A Close
Time Is Energy (And 'Clocks Forward' Daylight Uses Less)

Read the discussion of this article which follows the book E-store...