STARS of the south's biggest theatre will be taking a break from the spotlight on Saturday when the Mayflower joins landmark buildings across the globe for a dramatic one-hour light switch off.

From 8pm the striking lighting used to illuminate the Southampton theatre will be extinguished as will the lights in cities across the world, including Sydney, San Francisco and Bangkok. Southampton's WestQuay Shopping Centre, The Civic Centre and clock tower, the Skandia building and the Daily Echo's headquarters are among the Hampshire buildings plunging into darkness for the big switch off.

Winchester Cathedral, Hampshire County Council's offices and Portsmouth's Spinnaker tower are also turning off their lights in a bid to do their bit for the planet. Last year's first WWF Earth Hour in Sydney saw 2.2 million people and 2,100 businesses turn off their lights for 60 minutes. For The Mayflower theatre the light switch off also marks the start of an ambitious raft of green initiatives.

Spokesman Robin Hancox said: "The Mayflower theatre is delighted to take its part joining other businesses in this Saturday's Earth Hour by switching off the external theatre lights.

"We're aware that we have a very old building and we're working on ways to reduce our carbon footprint.

"One of the projects we are looking at is to recycle heat captured in the top of the theatre back into other parts of the building. We're also running an awareness campaign for staff to remember to switch off computer equipment and lights when not in use.

"Earth Hour is the ideal starting point to focus people in Hampshire about the real difference they can make." As part of the regional Earth Hour celebrations, local radio station Power FM will be broadcasting its Party in the Dark live from the Spinnaker Tower, including a link-up with other participating towns and cities.

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Don't miss Saturday's green Daily Echo, with Earth Hour news and printed on green paper.