Essex: LED street lights to be piloted in town centres but lights will not be switched back on elsewhere

A street light at dusk.

A street light at dusk. - Credit: Archant

LED street lights are set to be piloted across Essex but a senior councillor has warned it may not lead to lights going back on overnight.

The councillor responsible for lights at County Hall has revealed a trial project will begin next spring.

Seven areas have been identified for the pilot, including Colchester town centre.

Only lights not under part night lighting will be used.

Rodney Bass, councillor for highways at Essex County Council (ECC), revealed the plans for the trial scheme in his response to a scrutiny committee about part night lighting.

It follows widespread opposition from residents to the scheme which sees street lights switched off between midnight and 5am except for in town centres and at busy road junctions, though some have welcomed the reduction in light pollution.

Part night lighting is set to save the authority an estimated £1million annually and reduce carbon emissions by more than 8,000 tonnes per year.

Most Read

When it was implemented residents and opposition councillors questioned why LED lights were not used as a way of reducing costs and emissions while keeping the lights on.

ECC did review the use of LED lighting but decided it was too costly and unproven at the time.

Mr Bass said: “Substantial increases in electricity prices continue to affect everyone, including local authorities on a larger scale. We are therefore looking at ways to reduce energy and carbon consumption by various means to try and mitigate these increasing costs.

“One of the initiatives is to consider the introduction of more efficient street lights, which may include LED.

“LED street lights offer exceptional lighting with substantial energy savings and carbon reduction benefits. Other benefits claimed include a significantly extended life cycle of up to 25 years which will save the authority on ongoing maintenance costs.

“Essex County Council is considering a pilot to assess the impact of LED technology on local communities, test the technology and prove that energy savings can be achieved. The proposed pilot is expected to take place in the New Year in towns which are expected to include Maldon and Colchester.”

James Abbott, leader of the Green group at ECC, said: “I welcome this in principle.

“LED lights run at a much lower electricity consumption than conventional lights, which is good, but in other areas where they have been put in at much higher brightness levels causing complaints.

“I will be very interested to see the result of the trials.”

The scrutiny committee which Mr Bass made the written comments to meets tomorrow.