Information about LED street lights and part-night street lights.

LED street lighting

We have given the go-ahead to replace standard sodium street lights with new LED technology. This was agreed after executive members considered a report on the business case for replacing all streetlights maintained by North Yorkshire County Council with new LED technology over the next three years. 

To begin with, 5300 of our street lights were replaced between September 2017 and March 2018. The funding for the remaining street lights in the county was approved in the 2018 annual budget report.

We maintain 50,400 streetlights in North Yorkshire, which cost about £2.1million to power and £1.2million to maintain every year. The new, more efficient LED equipment will cost about 40 per cent less to power and is planned to offer an annual saving of about £1.285million on completion of the project.

The new lights are more environmentally-friendly than the standard ones and can play an important part in reducing carbon emissions. They will also help to mitigate any future rises in electricity prices.

A number of LED street lights are already operating across the county where the original lights have been replaced because of faults.

Frequently asked questions about LED street lighting

The county council's street lighting energy bill has previously exceeded £2million, and with energy prices forecast to rise we are taking this opportunity to replace the existing street lighting network with more efficient LED equipment. This will allow us to continue to provide a quality street lighting service at an affordable price and will mitigate any future rises in electricity costs.

All county council-owned street lighting will be converted to LED as part of the three year lantern replacement programme. Firstly, we will focus on the replacement of standard lanterns, although decorative and heritage lighting will be addressed at some point.

It is not our intention to replace heritage style equipment with modern LED lanterns. Our proposal is to fit LED equipment into existing heritage lanterns wherever possible so the only noticeable change will be the switch from yellow light to a more warm white light.

In most cases, lantern replacements take around 15 to 20 minutes per unit and are carried out using a single vehicle (cherry picker). There will be no excavation and limited traffic management, so any disruption should be minimal.

If you do experience significant disruption or are prevented from entering or leaving your property, please contact us and we will resolve the issue as a matter of urgency.

LEDs are much cheaper to operate than standard street lighting. A 20w LED lantern can often be used to replace a 70w high pressure sodium lantern and can still provide the level of illumination required by the British and European design standards. It is anticipated that the county council’s street lighting energy bill could be halved as a result of this programme. This also suggests that we will achieve a significant reduction of over 3.3k tonnes in the council’s carbon footprint.

The new LED lanterns are expected to have a lower failure rate and much longer life expectancy than standard street lights therefore ongoing maintenance requirements will be significantly reduced.

Unlike most street lights which can take up to ten minutes to reach full brilliance, LEDs switch on to full output immediately.

LEDs do not contain the harmful elements normally found in standard street lighting such as mercury or sodium and are therefore easier to safely dispose of.

We intend to keep the existing configuration of part-night lighting across North Yorkshire. Any street light that currently switches off between midnight and 5am will continue to do so once the LEDs have been installed. Residents should be aware that the lanterns will only commence part-night operation on the second night following installation. The control equipment will subsequently take around nine days to fully adjust to the midnight switch off.

The vast majority of our existing street lighting burns sodium which produces a light that appears yellow or orange in colour.

Residents will notice that the LEDs produce a white light that can be brighter and make it easier to differentiate colours which will improve visibility for motorists and pedestrians.

The image below gives an indication of the various colour temperatures.

Image displaying colour temperatures

Some previously installed LED lanterns operated at a colour temperature of 5000k. A small number of residents felt that these lights were too cold (blueish) in appearance. For the last two years we have installed LEDs with a very efficient natural white light at 4000k colour temperature. The majority of the new installations will use this type of LED.

Any heritage lighting will be left until the final year of the programme and will utilise a warm white light between 2700k and 3000k colour temperature.

The new lighting is designed to meet the British and European standards for road lighting design. In order to benefit from the maximum possible savings the county council has used lanterns specifically designed to direct all available light down on to the highway.

We would not wish to use our public lighting to illuminate private property which could, in extreme cases, contravene the requirements of the Cleaner Neighbourhoods Act in terms of light pollution.

In almost all cases the new LED lantern will simply replace the existing lantern on any given street lighting column. 

In a very small number of cases a street lighting column will be replaced if it is found to be in poor condition however it is unlikely that the position of the street light will be changed. In these circumstances a single sodium light may be left in situ for a short period of time until the lighting column can be replaced.

We do have a separate street lighting column replacement programme which targets the oldest, most decrepit equipment around the county. This programme will continue to operate concurrent with the proposed LED scheme and will take advantage of the new efficient lanterns. 

Exposure to light from an LED is as safe as being exposed to natural lighting or any other artificial light source. There is a wealth of research that confirms the safety of this technology that is being widely installed throughout the UK.

The full LED programme will take three years to complete costing approximately £12.8million.

It is anticipated that the complete replacement of all county council street lighting with LEDs will generate an annual saving of approximately £1.285million. This will be delivered through a dual saving in both energy consumption and ongoing maintenance.

Existing street lighting tends to spread light in all directions, including upwards, causing light pollution and light spillage into private properties. LED lighting is easier to direct, focussing available light downward onto the roads and pavements minimising any light spillage into homes and gardens.

If you experience any light intrusion following the introduction of the new LED lanterns please contact us and we will investigate.

The level of blue light emitted by our LEDs is equal to, or lower than, moon light which shines at around 4000k. The intensity of the light is more important when considering disruption to sleep patterns. Our designers will strive to minimise the amount of artificial light that will fall on to a bedroom window. In general this will be kept below 1 lux; for reference, daylight is 10,000 – 100,000 lux.

Part-night street lighting

In March 2016 we completed a four-year programme to reduce our street lighting energy consumption and associated carbon emissions.

The cost of electricity for our street lighting at the time we started was about £2.1million. Savings of almost £400,000 a year are expected. By reducing our carbon emissions the street lighting element of the carbon tax paid to the government will be cut by 28 per cent.

The scheme is monitored and we are committed to respond to any alert by the police to rises in relevant crime in areas where part-night lighting has been introduced. To date, the police have not asked for any lights to be reviewed.

Approximately 85 per cent of the county's roads don't have any street lighting. Street lights on the other 15 per cent are now only kept on all-night if they meet one (or more) criteria, which can be seen in the frequently asked questions below.

Frequently asked questions about part-night street lighting

Approximately 85 per cent of the county's roads don't have any street lighting. Street lights on the other 15 per cent are now only kept on all-night if they meet one (or more) of these criteria:

  • Main traffic routes and road junctions;
  • Locations with a significant road traffic night-time accident record;
  • Areas with a significant record of night-time crime or anti-social behaviour;
  • Lights outside sheltered housing and other residences accommodating vulnerable people;
  • Areas with 24-hour operational emergency services including hospitals;
  • Potential hazards on the highway such as traffic calming, speed humps and road crossings;
  • Parts of town centres that have concentrated night-time activity or economy; and / or
  • Areas covered by police or council CCTV operations.

The remainder are converted to part-night operation and automatically switch off between midnight and 5am when road use is at a minimum.

Yes. There is no statutory requirement on local authorities in the UK to provide public lighting, the law states that:

  • The Highways Act empowers local authorities to light roads but does not place a duty to do so;
  • The council has a duty of care to road users and has an obligation to light obstructions on the highway;
  • The council has a statutory duty under the Highways Act to ensure the safety of the highway and this includes any lighting equipment placed on the highway; and
  • The Electricity at Work Regulations impose a duty on owners and operators of electrical equipment to ensure its safety.

If the light does not meet any of the policy criteria for exclusion from the part night scheme, for example, night time road accidents, reported crime and anti-social behaviour, sheltered housing, road hazards or town centre we cannot exclude it from the scheme without a change in our policy.

You can contact us via our comments and complaints section here.

Street lights at major roundabouts and junctions, at pedestrian crossings, traffic lights, speed bumps or chicanes which are needed to ensure road safety will not be selected for switching off.

The vast majority of lights will only be switched off from about midnight when most drivers are not on the road, and will be switched on again around 5am GMT (or 1am to 6am BST) - well before the morning rush starts.

Not all street lights in a residential area will be switched off even if there is no record of accidents or crime. In these areas a small percentage of street lights will be left on as way finders primarily for the benefit of pedestrians.

The technology required for dimming street lighting is expensive and in many cases the cost cannot be recovered through subsequent energy savings.

This technology will only be used where our lamp wattages exceed 150w and the subsequent energy saving can recoup the initial investment cost.

Evidence from other areas in which similar measures have been introduced suggests that levels of crime and numbers of traffic accidents do not increase.

We will continue to work closely with the police, district and parish councillors and road safety engineers on the detailed proposals. All accidents and crime in the affected areas will be closely monitored throughout the project and regular meetings will be held with the emergency services.

The residential areas where cars are likely to be parked on the road over-night, are only being switched off in the early hours of the morning, say between midnight and 5am, when traffic flows are likely to be very low.

Vehicle speeds are also likely to be low as these areas have 30 mph speed limits and speed is also constrained by the narrowness of the road, speed humps and the presence of parked cars.  

The risk of collision is considered to be small given the low speeds and traffic volumes. However if you are parking your vehicle over-night on the road you do have a responsibility to park in a manner to ensure other road users can see your vehicle.

When fitted, each part-night photocell requires nine to 14 days to calibrate properly. The longer they are in situ the more accurate they become. The calibration process can be interrupted by a number of variables, including adverse weather conditions, local power disruptions and the switch between BST and GMT.

The streetlights work on the available light (via their photocell) and do not have an inbuilt clock.

When everything is working perfectly there is still a +/- 15min variation possible in the switching times. However, only a very small proportion of lights would be affected to this extent. Of more than 14,000 units installed to date only a handful have experienced these timing issues over an extended period.

Any timing issues will resolve themselves as the photo cells continue the calibration process without manual internvention. However, if the issue persists (outside the +/- 15min) for longer than the 14 day calibration period we will consider replacing them.

If lights continue to operate outside of this 15 minute window, please report a streetlight fault and we will investigate.