All street lights to be low energy to save £77m

Over the next three years the city's 54,000 street lights will be switched from the standard sodium bulbs to energy-saving LEDs
Over the next three years the city's 54,000 street lights will be switched from the standard sodium bulbs to energy-saving LEDs
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A MAJOR overhaul of Edinburgh’s street lighting is set to save the city more than £77 million and burnish its green credentials.

Standard sodium bulb street lamps will be replaced with bright LEDs as part of a three-year roll-out aimed at cutting down on the city’s hefty energy bill, under plans set to go before councillors today. The radical move – which will involve upgrading 54,000 street lights at a total cost of £25m – is expected to save the city more than £1200 per bulb over the next two decades.

The city-wide scheme follows an LED trial in some areas of the city last year, in which the lamps were criticised for emitting a concentrated pool of light that leaves “pitch dark” patches on streets – sparking fears they could make pedestrians an easy target for crime.

Councillor Lesley Hinds, environment leader, said the council would learn from the experience gained during those trials and “instal brighter lanterns, which can be remotely adjusted”.

She added: “Not only will these new LED lights reduce energy consumption but [they] will help the council cut its annual energy bill. We simply cannot afford not to carry out this upgrade.”

Last year LED street lights – which last for up to 20 years – were introduced in areas including Drylaw, Clermiston, Currie, Portobello and Restalrig.

But following hundreds of complaints from residents that the new bulbs were “too dim”, the council decided to bring in a brighter style for this latest roll-out – a move that will allow more light to “spill” out on to the road and surrounding properties.

A centralised management system will also enable lighting levels to be remotely controlled from an office – further slashing the cost of maintenance.

LED street lights have been introduced in cities as diverse as New York and London, where they have met with mixed reactions. In the London borough of Hounslow, locals compared the lamps to “living on a football pitch” due to their harsh, concentrated beam.

Allister McKillop, chair of Currie Community Council, said the introduction of the new bulbs in his area had been “uneven” – with problems remaining in some streets even after city officials had been out to review the situation.

“I fully understand why the use of LED lights is cheaper and good for the environment – all these are good things,” he said.

“But [the council] has to give more thought to where they are putting them and their angle. These are things that people are concerned about. They never seem to bleed as much as the old lights. It’s a very specific pool of light.”

Alex Dale, chair of Drylaw/Telford Community Council, said there had been no complaints from locals. He said: “It’s a different type of light and it looks darker, but actually it’s not any worse or any better than what was there before.”

City chiefs said residents would see the lights as “more concentrated” and clear – allowing colours to be easily seen under their beam.