A survey found almost half of businesses in an Oxford street were leaving their lights on throughout the night.
But some shops in the survey claimed it was prudent to leave lights on for security and advertising purposes.
Our investigation was sparked by reader Maureen Pitson, 60, from Wolvercote, who drew our attention to lights which had been left on day and night at Borders in Magdalen Street.
The vacant store has been illuminated 24 hours a day since the bookstore chain ceased trading on December 22 after being plunged into administration.
Ms Pitson described the lights being left on as a “shocking waste”.
And climate change campaigner Chris Goodall has estimated the shop could be pumping out as much as a tonne of carbon dioxide a week.
It takes one tree 100 years to absorb that amount of CO2.
Ms Pitson said: “It really annoys me every time I walk past.
“I don’t know who pays for the lights being on, but somebody must be paying and it is just a complete waste of energy.
“I can understand for security you might need a few lights on, but this is something else.”
Our survey of shops carried out at 9.45pm on a week night in Cornmarket Street found 18 of the street’s 43 shops left either their main store lights on, display lights to advertise their products, or kept lights on for security purposes.
Gap, Moss Bros, and the 3 Phone store were among those who said they left energy efficient lights on for advertising.
Gennaro Castaldo, a spokesman for HMV which turned all its lights off, said: “Advertising and promotion is important, but the public at large value businesses managing their costs and reducing their impact on the environment more.”
Lois Muddiman, spokesman for Low Carbon West Oxford, said she had spoken to stores about leaving their lights on at night.
She said: “We can’t see any justification for leaving all the lights on overnight in a shop.”
Mr Goodall, who is the Green Party candidate for Oxford West and Abingdon and has written books on cutting carbon emissions, said: “You can see why you might not want to have no lights because it might encourage entry.
“But Borders could be boarded up and the lights turned off.”
Richard Merrin, a spokesman for administrators MCR, said it had handed the shop’s keys over to the lettings agent for the landlord, DTZ, on January 12.
However Andrew King, associate director of DTZ, said his firm did not have the keys and sole responsibility for the shop rested with the administrator.
Neither Mr King or Mr Merrin could provide an explanation as to why the lights had been left on.
- What shops and businesses have you seen lit up at night? And what do you think about the issue? Call 01865 425500 or leave a comment