Herefordshire’s LED street lights project will save £17 million and 29,000 tonnes of carbon emissions over the next 20 years.
In 2009 street lighting was identified as one of the largest areas of carbon emissions in the county. The rising cost of energy was also a concern and a ‘Spend to Save’ project for street lights was seen as a positive move. Additionally, we wanted to replace our dated 1960’s lighting and provide residents with a modern, high-quality and efficient solution.
Herefordshire is a rural county including parts of two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) as well as being adjacent to the Brecon Beacons International Dark Skies Reserve. Before the LED project, Hereford in particular had an issue with light pollution. We looked at a number of options including late night dimming before deciding to pilot a small LED lights project to seek residents’ opinions.
We were drawn to LED lights because they have: low energy consumption compared to sodium lights; soft white light which spreads less and can be directed downwards to the street so is less likely to shine into residents’ properties; high quality light, with better colour identification; no ‘warm up’ time - ability to switch directly on and off, providing further cost savings; a reduced maintenance and replacement schedule.
Our innovative project took place in two phases. Phase one first replaced around a third of the lights in the autumn/winter of 2010/11.
Phase two took place during 2015 where the remaining two thirds of lights were replaced. In phase two we also added in the additional measure of dimming the lights to 80% of full power between 10pm and midnight, and to 50% of full power between midnight and 5.30am which provides additional savings.
In 2012 we also included traffic lights, bollards and signs within the scope, replacing these across the county.
Our innovative five-year, £7 million project has not only improved the fabric and feel of the county’s street lighting, but is set to deliver significant revenue costs savings of approximately £17 million over the next 20 years.
As the single largest project within our ambitious Carbon Management Plan, this project will save 29,000 tonnes of carbon emissions over 20 years which is the equivalent to the average carbon footprint of 2,600 domestic households.
The new lights also benefit wildlife - the Wye Valley AONB is home to around a quarter of the UK population of lesser horseshoe bats, a species which is particularly vulnerable to light pollution and there were initial concerns from some environmental groups regarding the possible implications of LED lights on the bat populations and light pollution in our AONBs. One group carried out an extensive research project and came to the conclusion that light pollution with LEDs was considerably less and that the bat population suffered no negative impacts from the new lighting.
Before the project was implemented we researched a number of options including late night dimming before deciding to pilot a small LED lights project to seek residents’ opinions.
Herefordshire’s public realm contract was managed by Amey during the first phase and by Balfour Beatty Living Places during phase two. Both Amey and Balfour have a wealth of experience in street light installation from around the country and their teams were responsible for project managing the installation.
We had an extensive communications campaign to inform residents of what we were doing and
We involved all county councillors as well as the local media.
We worked with the emergency services to ensure that the lighting level met their specifications.
We also consulted with the Royal National College for the Blind who are based in Hereford, who had no concerns over the scheme.