A morning in early December. It is 8.15am as I look out of my kitchen window to dark, streetlights and car headlights beaming through the rain.
A proposal for putting clocks forward an hour could mean that in northern Scotland it would not be light until 10am in the morning. The UK government is debating changing the hours of daylight for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In the UK we exist in two time zones – British Summer Time in the summer, Greenwich Mean Time during the winter. We put clocks back an hour in October, the consequence being we get more light in the mornings. The clocks go forward in March - “spring forward, fall back” is a saying many people use to remember which way to adjust their clocks.
An experiment in playing with time took place from 1968 to 1971. Clocks were put forward in Spring 1968 and not put back until October 1971, giving the UK spent 3.5 years on British Standard Time. Results of the experiment were inconclusive and the government voted to return to the use of summer and mean time.
The current proposal suggests that we move time forward, once again for a 3 year period, to test the viability of the change. Both summer and winter time would be moved forward an hour. I would be seeing the streetlights, dark and car headlights I saw yesterday at 8.15am at 9.15am – not a prospect I personally relish. It is proposed this change would help the economy, particularly tourism which would benefit from more hours of daylight towards the end of the day. There would potentially be fewer rush hour accidents if the rush hour took place in light rather than dark. It would make it easier for children and adults to do outside sports in the evenings. It would also bring us in to line with time in other European countries.
In England, where light bleeds across the sky early in the day, where navigating ice is not a daily winter ritual, the prospect of more evening light holds attraction. In Scotland, where many people work outdoors or travel long distances in an often harsh climate, the idea of darker mornings has not had a warm reception. Workers would be travelling to work in frequently treacherous conditions in darkness rather than light. Early morning workers such as posties, agricultural workers and care workers, would be doing more of their work in the dark. Schools would be welcoming children in the dark of the morning, seeing them out in to the remains of the day.