A £2.49 million overhaul of North Yorkshire’s streetlights is set to be approved as part of a commitment to reduce energy use and tackle climate change.
At a meeting of our executive on Tuesday (19 September), members will be asked to approve the replacement of all concrete columns, obsolete brackets and non-LED lanterns over a three-year period.
The project aims to mitigate against the risk of increasing energy costs and contribute towards the county’s carbon reduction targets.
The outgoing district and borough councils, which merged with North Yorkshire County Council to form North Yorkshire Council in April, were responsible for about 10,650 footway lighting columns. It is estimated that 5,000 of these have non-LED lanterns.
The proposals replicate the steps taken by the former county council for its road lighting provision.
The cost of replacing the lanterns as well as necessary brackets and columns is £2.49 million. The anticipated savings are £440,000 with a payback period of about five-and-a-half years.
In recent years, North Yorkshire County Council replaced about 95 per cent of its streetlights with energy efficient LED technology. The completion of this project has seen almost a 50 per cent reduction in energy and a decrease in maintenance costs.
Executive member for climate change, Cllr Greg White, said: “The installation of LED streetlights would be a significant milestone in our move to a greener future, forming part of our commitment to be carbon neutral by 2030.
“The new LED lanterns are designed to reduce light pollution while reducing energy consumption with no decrease in performance. The replacement of older, inefficient lanterns should result in fewer defects together with reduced ongoing maintenance.”
Between 2012 and 2016, North Yorkshire County Council converted about 55 per cent of its streetlights to part-night operation, meaning they are switched off between midnight and 5am when fewer people are using the roads. This resulted in a 25 per cent reduction in energy consumption.
Consultation will be undertaken with a view to extending this initiative to include the former district and borough council lighting.
We are looking to take advantage of improved technology to implement part-night lighting and cut burning hours by 10 to 20 minutes each day. This would be done by changing the level of illumination at which streetlights switch on and off.
Executive member for highways and transport, Cllr Keane Duncan, added: “The efficiency of our streetlights is critical in keeping people safe.
“Fitting LEDs will ensure there are fewer unforeseen failures which are costly, a burden on resources and leave residents in the dark.
“This is a major project to carry out, but it is a worthwhile investment for the new unitary council that will ensure our lighting is more reliable and more energy efficient while providing valuable budget savings.”
The North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales National Parks were awarded International Dark Sky Reserve status in 2020 because of the low levels of light pollution.
The International Dark-Sky Association granted Reserve status to both areas, which combined cover more than 1,350 square miles of northern England.
It was by far the biggest such announcement in the UK and represented one of the largest areas in Europe to be simultaneously designated.
The proposals to roll-out LED streetlights across the county has been welcomed by the National Park authorities as the move will endeavour to maintain the county’s Dark Sky Reserve Status.
Kathryn Beardmore, director of park services for the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, said: “Efficient and environmentally sensitive lighting benefits wildlife and wellbeing, saves energy and enhances our view of the inspiring night sky.
“Together with the North York Moors National Park, we were awarded International Dark Sky Reserve status.
“An important part of retaining this status is showing, year on year, how our exceptional night skies are being protected from light pollution.
“North Yorkshire Council supported our bid for Dark Sky Reserve status, and we appreciate this significant investment in dark sky friendly energy-efficient streetlights by them. This will go a long way in helping us retain our status.”