Streets ‘left in dark’ by energy-efficient bulbs

Street Lighting on St Mary's Place and Dalkeith Street in Portobello. Picture: Scott Taylor
Street Lighting on St Mary's Place and Dalkeith Street in Portobello. Picture: Scott Taylor
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RESIDENTS have claimed they were “left in the dark” by energy-efficient street bulbs – prompting city council staff to make them brighter.

Households in and around Dalkeith Street and St Mary’s Place, both in Portobello, reported feeling unsafe after new light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs were installed.

Now council leaders have ramped up their output in a bid to alleviate security fears.

The move comes after 331 gripes about the lights were received from nearly a quarter of 537 streets involved in the city-wide LED upgrade.

Opposition figures warned that the council would have to consider installing higher-power bulbs if increases in light intensity failed to satisfy residents.

Tory councillor Allan Jackson said: “The majority of street lights in Edinburgh give a good spread of light over the street, pavement and people’s gardens.

“The new LED lights use less electricity but they have a narrower beam and tend to create bright spots and dark spots. And they don’t throw light back the way, so front doors are not lit.

“People are concerned about burglaries and vandalism and other crimes.”

He said that, where LED bulbs had been retro-fitted to existing columns, the lamp posts were often too far apart to give an even spread of light.

“The new lights are going into lamp posts which were never designed for them,” he said. “Where they have turned the lighting up, that does seem to help a bit.” But he stressed that if the increased power still proved unsatisfactory, the council would have to think about installing stronger LED lights, which are already being used as part of the Stronger North anti-crime drive in Pilton and Muirhouse.

He added that it could even be necessary to erect more lamp posts so they are closer together.

“There have been a lot of complaints from a lot of different streets,” he said.

“The council is going round them all and people tell me the increased lighting is a lot better but it still does not give the same level of general spread.”

However, community leaders said it was important to remember the substantial energy and cost savings being delivered.

Sean Watters, secretary at Portobello Community Council, said: “If they are LED bulbs then they are going to be much more efficient, even on a higher setting. The LED bulbs use only a tenth of the energy of conventional bulbs. Even if you have a bigger bulb, it’s not a huge problem [in terms of energy use].”

City leaders confirmed that light levels in certain streets had risen following expressions of public concern. A spokeswoman said: “We have listened to complaints from members of the public in the streets concerned and, as a result, have agreed to increase the brightness of street lamps following a period of monitoring.”