LED lighting project
Wiltshire Council LED Street Lighting Project
Wiltshire Council is making a £12 million investment to convert its street lighting to LED lighting. The older types of lights are going out of production and the cost of energy is becoming prohibitive. The new lights are much more energy efficient and have a reduced carbon footprint.
The light from the LED units looks different as it is not orange in colour as some of the older lighting is. The new lights will provide similar lighting levels with less light spill and be considerably cheaper to operate and maintain. Instead of being turned off for part of the night many of the lights will be dimmed during off peak periods to further reduce energy consumption.
The conversion will be carried out quickly in most locations with little disturbance and disruption as it is only the electrical equipment being changed. However, in a few cases it may be necessary to renew the lighting column which will require excavation in the pavement to provide and connect the new column.
The operation of the lighting and the dimming regime will be reviewed after six months. The frequently asked questions below have been developed below to aid any queries regarding this project.
Programme of work
Work started on the two year project in Chippenham and the surrounding area in October 2019 and the majority of street lights have now been upgraded in Amesbury, Salisbury, Westbury, Melksham and Devizes. The remaining areas of the county will be completed during 2021.
Whilst most of the lights will be changed to the new type during the planned visit there will be occasions when special units are required. In such circumstance the special units will be fitted later in the programme.
Background & Key Information
There are almost 45,000 street lights on Wiltshire Council's highway network. Energy costs have risen sharply in recent years, and are likely to continue to rise in the longer term. The annual cost for street lighting energy is currently over £1,900,000, and with current budget restrictions these costs are becoming increasingly unaffordable.
Light Emitting Diode (LED) lighting is energy efficient and has reduced in price considerably in recent years. At present, only 3% of the Council's street lighting is LED lighting, with the majority being the older low pressure sodium (SOX) or high pressure sodium (SON) units. The SOX units are becoming obsolete and going out of production, and are becoming increasingly difficult to obtain.
LED lights use considerably less energy than the older SOX and SON units. A major advantage is that LED lights provide the opportunity to dim the lighting during off-peak periods to further reduce energy consumption. LED lighting dimmed between 8pm and 6am, with additional dimming after 11pm, would typically reduce energy consumption by 69% compared to the current SOX units.
It is proposed to convert most of the Council's street lighting to LED units over the next two years. The cost of the project is estimated to be £12,295,000 and it is expected to have a pay back in 11.88 years, but this could be substantially sooner depending on future energy costs.
For further information please use contact details below;
Or in writing to:
Highways Asset Management
Issues regarding street lighting can be reported through the My Wiltshire app or online.
Frequently asked questions
The advantages of LED lighting include:
- LEDs are much more efficient and use much less electricity than other lamps or bulbs for similar output, reducing energy costs.
- Have extremely long lives compared to traditional lights.
- Produce very little heat.
- Produce much fewer carbon emissions through energy generation.
- Contain no mercury.
- Can operate effectively in both cold and hot environments.
- Produce a white light to enable the human eye to see natural colours at night.
- Are much more directional than other lights, reducing 'sky glow' and glare.
- LEDs are instantaneous and function at full output when switched on. No warm-up times as with most street lighting.
- They can be dimmed at off peak times.
- They provide improved uniformity of light.
- Variation in colour temperatures are available for specific applications.
There is no duty on the Council to provide street lighting, but the safety and other benefits for the local communities are appreciated, and Council's have traditionally provided street lighting.
Street lighting has benefits in terms of road safety and public safety. It supports the night time economy and helps reduce the fear of crime.
Energy costs have been rising enormously in recent years and, with the other services the Council has to provide, the cost of energy for the street lighting is becoming increasingly unaffordable. The savings in energy costs will help pay for the new lighting, and the project will significantly reduce the Council's carbon footprint.
There are massive energy savings possible with the modern units. Older low pressure sodium lights will no longer be in production from 2020, and it will be necessary to replace them eventually.
The project is expected to reduce the annual energy consumption of the Council's street lighting from 12,977,500 KWh to 5,262,291 KWh. The reduction in energy for each light will vary according to the unit, but is likely to be as much as 69% in some cases.
There will be a significant reduction. It will reduce street lighting CO2 by 1,770tCO2 (from 4,950tCO2 to 3,180tCO2.)
They will provide similar lighting levels, but the older sodium lights have a greater upward light proportion and much more light spread. This can cause pollution of the night sky but may have benefits in illuminating adjacent properties. It is not always possible to do an exact like for like replacement given the different types of lighting, and the intention is to provide something appropriate for the location.
It is proposed to use LED units with what is known as a colour temperature of between 2700k and 3000k for most of the lights, which are often referred to as warm. Some other LED lights have a higher colour temperature of 4000k which some campaigners have had concerns about. The units to be used for this project will be Axia 3 lights manufactured by Urbis Schreder.
The existing street lighting has been installed over the years to varying design standards. The intention is to provide an appropriate level of lighting with the new units, but the use of the existing columns will mean that some deviation from current design standards will be inevitable.
Some street lights in towns and villages are currently turned off for part of the night. The new lighting is much more energy efficient, and it is not currently intended to turn them off at night, but they will be dimmed to lower levels. Where requested consideration will be given to continuing the part night operation of particular units if it has local support.
It is proposed to dim most of the lighting between 8pm and 6am, with additional dimming after 11pm. Lights at zebra crossings, areas with greater highway safety requirements, and areas with significant night time activity would generally not be dimmed.
Street lighting is intended to light the adopted road and pavement. The lighting of private property is the responsibility of the homeowner or tenant.
Many Wiltshire Council streets will have been illuminated to differing standards throughout the years. With the introduction of LED lighting a review of the lighting requirements based on location, usage and other factors will be applied. This may result in an increase in light output and light level on the street, but at a level which is appropriate and compliant with standards.
Where there is an increase in light levels in some streets, the LED equipment will still provide energy savings in comparison to the old lights, which were very energy inefficient.
Many Wiltshire Council streets will have been illuminated to differing standards throughout the years. With the introduction of LED lighting a review of the lighting requirements based on location, usage and other factors will be applied. This may result in a reduced light output but one which is appropriate and compliant with standards.
Most columns will not be replaced. However, those that are in poor condition or damaged will be replaced as necessary.
No. It is important to avoid sudden variations of lighting levels for drivers as it takes time for the eyes to adjust and it could be dangerous.
At present solar powered units on the columns are generally not suitable, but the situation may change as technology develops.
No. The scheme will save money in the longer term and will help reduce the potential scale of future increases and avoid having to turn lights off.
Many other authorities have already converted their lighting to LED units in order to save money, and others are likely to do likewise in the near future.
It would cost a significant amount of money to write to every individual household in the county, and as street lighting is not being removed or turned off it was not considered necessary.
The Council will be extending the existing central control and management system so that most of the county's street lights can be controlled remotely. This will allow some alterations to the lighting to be made in response to changing circumstances.
The intention is to change nearly all the Council's street lights. Some of the heritage style or special units may be changed towards the end of the programme.
In most cases it will be just the lantern which will be upgraded, and usually this will take around 15 minutes. Where other ancillary works or the street lighting columns as well as the lantern need to be replaced, this will take longer. Some electrical connections may have to be undertaken by the electricity company and it will be necessary for them to complete the works.
In conservation areas the new lights will be coloured black as are many of the existing columns. The lights will have a 'warmer' appearing light. Lighting columns are not being replaced as part of this project unless they are unsafe. Should town councils or others wish to contribute to the cost it may be possible to replace existing columns with heritage style units or other enhancements.
In Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) the lighting will have the 2,700k warmer appearing light. Most units will be installed at 0° inclination to reduce light spill, with lighting levels dimmed later in the evening. The new lighting will reduce light spill and contribute to improving the dark skies.
In most cases the conversion will be a quick operation done during the day. However, where columns have to be replaced some lights may be out of operation for a short period. Care will be taken to avoid creating large dark areas during implementation.
Every effort will be made to ensure that roads remain open whilst we work. However, there may be very short periods when we need to control traffic to protect the safety of both the public and our workforce. If you need to access your property at any time during the works, please inform the on-site team at the earliest opportunity and suitable arrangements will be made. Pedestrian access will be maintained at all times.
Where trees are blocking existing lighting, the trees will be pruned if appropriate. If they are in private ownership the tree owners will be approached regarding the works required. The work on the trees will be carried out by experienced operatives in accordance with environmental restrictions, taking into account the health of the tree, nesting birds, and any other restrictions. In some cases, relocation of the lights may be considered.
In the short term some of the lanterns may be used as temporary replacements for other lights, but in the longer term they will all be recycled via approved methods in accordance with regulations.
It is anticipated that the new units will last 20 to 25 years. The older lamps currently in use usually have to be changed every 3 to 6 years.
As lighting is not being removed or turned off it was not considered necessary to hold public consultation regarding these proposals.
It proposed to start changing the units in October 2019, with the programme expected to take about two years.
No. Generally it will be fairly quick to make the changes, with most of the work done during the day. If columns have to be replaced for safety reasons this takes longer and will require excavation to remove the old column, erect the new one, and transfer the electrical connection.
As LEDs produce a natural white light, this enables the human eye to see in colour and with improved peripheral vision. This should make your road look safer and help reduce crime and the fear of crime.
LED lights are slightly brighter at source than traditional light sources, but the ability to direct light will minimise glare. The directional qualities of the lanterns also reduces light spill into and onto properties in the majority of situations as well as significantly reducing sky glow.
There is no evidence this type of lighting is any more harmful than other forms of lighting in normal circumstances.
The introduction of the new lighting will provide the opportunity dim and reduce lighting levels at sensitive locations. The scheme has the potential to have environmental benefits compared to most existing lighting types due to significant reduction in the emittance of UV light.
No. The street lighting LEDs contain no hazardous chemicals, unlike most of the older lamp types.
LEDs can produce more blue light than traditional discharge street lighting, but it is a tiny fraction of the content in natural daylight, and does not have any detrimental effect on people. Research indicates that light exposure needs to be very high in order to disrupt sleep patterns. Typical street lighting levels are less than light levels normally found in the home. The use of handheld phones, tablets and computers is likely to have a greater impact.
Studies examining the effect of LEDs and other sources on the retina have concluded that they do not present any risk to the retina for short exposure times. However, it is best to avoid looking directly at any light source, natural (including the sun), or artificial, for any length of time. The luminaires used have been specified to be no worse than Risk Group 1, which means no specific precautions need to be taken.
Some of the existing street lights use sodium which produces a light that appears orange in colour. LED lights produce a white light which makes it is easier to recognise colours, improving visibility for road users and pedestrians. Unfortunately the low pressure sodium lights were not energy efficient and consequently are going out of production. With the ending of the manufacture of the older lights it will not be possible to make like for like replacements with regard to colour of the light.
Older street lighting tends to spread light in all directions, including upwards. LED street lighting is less wasteful and directs the distribution of light down towards the road and pavement. This helps in reducing any light intrusion into homes and gardens. Where appropriate additional dimming or shielding could be applied to further minimise concerns.
They are designed to have a long life span of around 20 to 25 years of near maintenance-free service. Unlike with conventional street lighting units, there is not the need for frequent lamp changes, which means there is reduced waste and unit attendance. This means:
- Reduced annual energy consumption required to keep street lights illuminated;
- Reduced disposal of old lamps containing harmful mercury or other materials;
- Reduced fuel used and the accompanying pollution to service lights;
- Reduced potential for disruption on the highway network through lane closures or road works to maintain the lights;
- Less natural resources and energy used to produce replacement lamps for maintenance;
- Less fuel used to transport the lamps from the factory (most likely overseas), to the distributor, to the contractor, to the job site.