EU Directive slammed by manager of Poole-based GF Electrical

A Dorset electrician has condemned a new EU Directive which will come into effect from today and will eventually see UK shops being stopped from selling traditional light bulbs.

Gary Fisher, manager of Poole-based company, GF Electrical, believes the move hasn’t been properly thought through, will lead to problems with disposal of old light bulbs and could potentially be dangerous to people.

The aim of the legislation is to replace regular filament light bulbs – used in the majority of UK homes – with low-energy fluorescent varieties by 2012. As of today, shops will be able to sell any remaining stock, but will not be able to order in more bulbs. The government claims this will help protect the environment in the long run.

“There are a number of problems with this law,” says Fisher. “The first one is that many light fittings won’t work with fluorescent, energy-saving bulbs. For example, anyone with dimmer switches at home will find that they won’t work without traditional light bulbs. They’re also not practical for inside fridges and ovens, where temperatures don't allow them to operate, or inside enclosed fittings, such as patio and garage lights.

“Another thing to remember is that they’re only effective if they stay on for longer than 15 minutes at a time. If you have any lights that you only switch on for a few minutes at a time you can actually shorten the bulb’s lifespan by up to 85% - basically back to where a normal light-bulb would be - except you paid more for this one!

“Finally, and probably most importantly, energy-saving light bulbs also rely on mercury, which the EU had otherwise banned because it’s highly toxic. This is important because it creates serious problems with disposal. If they break you can’t throw them in the bin. You need to wear rubber gloves when clearing them up and make sure you don’t inhale the dust. When you consider that there are no really efficient ways of recycling the bulbs once they’re spent, they could actually create more damage than they save!

“This idea, although well-meaning, hasn’t been thought through, will be hugely expensive and inconvenient and will have very little impact on the environment in reality.”