A PETITION has been launched to fight plans to switch off the lights on the M65 between Burnley and Pendle.

Lancashire County Council (LCC) has unveiled plans to remove dozens of lighting columns from junctions 10 to 14, in order to install a new concrete barrier along the central reservation.

Backed by community leaders, The Lancashire Telegraph launched its Turn The Lights On campaign to get all the lights on the motorway switched back on after years of darkness.

Now Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson is promiting a petition launched in Colne against the switch off, which he plans to roll out in other towns.

He said: “With these plans by the county council we felt we had to do something to support the Lancashire Telegraph’s campaign.”

The Highways Agency, which manages the motorway from junction one to 10, turned the lights out between junctions seven and 10 in 2011 to reduce carbon emissions.

The county council controls junctions 10 to 14. Currently the motorway lights in that section are switched off after midnight until 5am but the new move would leave the M65 without illumination permanently.

Mr Stephenson said: “This is an issue people feel very strongly about and I’ve spoken to a number of residents who are unhappy with the plans.

“It is quite clear that LCC intends to go ahead with this, but we stopped it in 2009 and we have to try again.

“We’re sending out thousands of leaflets to residents urging them to sign the petition and have their say, and to do what we can to stop the lights being switched off.”

Last month Blackburn coroner Michael Singleton told an inquest he was going to write to Highways Agency bosses with grave concerns over the switch-off policy.

He was speaking after hearing about the aftermath of a fatal crash in November involving Mark Burgess near junction eight, which saw following motorists colliding with debris left on the road.