Many strands of my research have identified areas of resource waste and the policies and practices needed for its reduction. The issue of daylight hours fits well into this. The majority of the UK population get up well after sunrise during most of the year but are then denied opportunities for outdoor activity by the onset of darkness at the end of the day. The aim of this research was to analyse the wide-ranging consequences of achieving a better match of daylight hours with the period of the day when most people are ‘up and about’ by moving clocks forward by an additional hour from their current setting in both winter and summer. Detailed studies were made of the likely effects on road casualties; security issues; leisure; health and well-being; industry and services; domestic tourism; overseas travel; trade and communications; fuel consumption; Scotland; and political considerations.
As most outdoor activities are not possible after dark and in any case many people are fearful about going out after dark, there would be far more outdoor leisure and social activity in the evenings, especially for children and older people, as a result of the proposed clock change. For this reason, the extra hour of 'accessible' daylight on every day of the year would lead to a significant improvement in health and well-being. It was established that the lighter evenings would also achieve significant reductions in road casualties, crime and electricity usage; a boost to domestic tourism; and a number of associated all-year round benefits from the UK joining the same time zone as most countries in Central and Western Europe.
Most opposition to advancing clocks by an additional hour in summer and winter has come from Scotland, the northern latitude of which makes for particularly short winter days. The principal grounds for objection are the loss of the hour of daylight on winter mornings and the associated consequences that would come in the wake of this, especially a fear that it would result in more casualties on the roads and loss of efficiency in working practices for outdoor-based industries such as agriculture.
My study for the Policy Studies Institute Making the most of daylight hours: the implications for Scotland looked exclusively at the evidence on what the clock change would mean for Scotland. In it I conclude that advancing the clocks would bring the Scottish people at least as great benefits as those predicted for the rest of the UK. Public opinion polls reveal strong public support for the change in England and Wales and fairly evenly-divided support in recent polls in Scotland in spite of an incorrect or exaggerated perception of the consequences. The evidence in this report adds up to a strong case for reform.