Agenda item

Update on Street Lighting (report to follow).


The committee had requested an update on street lighting policy.  A report was presented which gave an update on the service and its pressures and reaffirmed that there were no proposed changes to the current street lighting policy. 


Members heard that in 2014, a decision was taken to achieve cost savings and wider

environmental benefits in carbon reduction, light pollution and biodiversity through switching off streetlights in residential areas in the main towns. A further roll out in 2017 included smaller towns and villages.  The council had used a loan to upgrade the control system to the Harvard system, which provided options for switching times, dimming and part-night operation.  Savings were primarily achieved through reduced energy usage from reduced operating hours and improvements in technology, together with the switch from traditional halogen bulbs to LED bulbs.  The committee were informed that unlike many authorities, the council decided that none would be completely turned off and as such, the council’s policy for residential lighting is to only switch off between midnight and 5:30 and to implement dimming at other times.   Improvements to technology has meant that the latest LED bulbs can be dimmed across a much wider range and these are being used in all replacements.  For new lanterns, the council now dims residential areas to 20% instead of switching lights off. 


Officers explained that the cost of replacing all the RC units with the pre-programmed units is unbudgeted and in the region of £210,000. As the older RC units fail they will be replaced with the new technology.  Members were advised that whilst there were many concerns regarding safety and increased crime levels when the policy was consulted on, there is no evidence to prove that levels of crime have increased since the policy was introduced.  The team work closely with the Police and where the Police have specific concerns for safety, the switch-off period has been reduced and the new LEDs that are 20% dimmed will resolve the issue of the perception of crime.


In terms of resources, the committee heard that the costs savings from reduced energy usage are being used to repay the SALIX loan over the next 16 years but this leaves very little for reinvestment in the ageing infrastructure.  The team are 3 people with responsibility for street lighting overall, so there is a resource issue. 




·       You mentioned that Harvard has gone bust, where does that leave us? 

Another company has taken over but not all of our lighting is on the Harvard system, some are on different systems.


·       If technology is changing all the time, are we improving with the times?  Is there merit in upgrading the infrastructure?

We have a mixed batch out there.  The market is continually evolving so we upgrade when it’s defunct with the best technology.  To change all the lighting would be a huge cost so we are changing as we need to. Our budgets are decreasing but there is no cashable saving coming back as that’s paying off the loan.We manage traffic lighting and safety signs not just street lighting columns and we have to maintain and upgrade these. Some are run on aluminium cable and replacing all of that is very expensive, so it’s about investing in the infrastructure.


·     Initially there were concerns for safety. Where there are concerns, can we do anything?

We haven’t had lots of complaints with crime or safety issues. Where identified, we can put lights back on but we’ve taken a pragmatic approach to the policy.


·       When do we anticipate all the old lighting will have been replaced?

All will be replaced by the summer. The first phase went in 5-6 years ago, so they are not as efficient.


·       Will there be any monetary benefit?

No, it’s invested back in to LED. This is essentially a budget diversion exercise as opposed to budget saving. It’s not just about the money, there are environmental considerations here too.


·       I’m concerned that you are saying that it can take 10 years for adoption of the highway so that the lighting is old technology ~ it is ridiculous that it would take so long to go through that process.

The reason is often that it costs the developer money and therefore they aren’t particularly pushing for progress.


Chair’s Conclusion:


We have welcomed the opportunity to have an update on this issues since it was raised by Councillor Easson. The report was very clear in presenting the resource issues that we need to be aware of and confirming to us that the existing policy is not subject to change. I would like to raise the matter of adoption of highways with the Head of Planning. If any members have any further questions on this, I recommend you liaise with officers directly.


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