Street lights could be switched off to save energy and money

Street lights in Leeds could be switched off at certain times each night to save the council energy and money.

Members of the council’s executive board will determine if some lamps can be switched off between midnight and 5.30am when they meet on Wednesday 19 June.

If agreed, the change would apply to around 8,000 of the city’s 92,000 street lights. Only street lights that meet certain criteria on safety and road safety grounds will be considered for the partial switch off.

The public was consulted on the proposals between February and April this year. Based on that feedback, additional criteria to where the night-time switch off could apply was added.

The council stands to save over £1 million over the next 10 years in energy bills with the proposed switch off. Even with energy efficient street lights that make the most of the latest technology, the council’s electricity bill for street lighting comes in at £3.97 million a year. Energy costs are expected to continue to increase.

The change will cost £376,864 to implement.

Councillor Richard Lewis, executive member for development and the economy, said:

“Although these proposals are aimed at helping us cut emissions and save money to be invested in other essential council services, road safety and the impact on crime has to be our top priority.

“Careful consideration has been given to the proposals and we’ve taken on board the feedback of residents to provide extra reassurance.

“The approach to partnership working and amending proposed switch off times and locations show that we are continuing to provide best value services that reduce our impact on the environment while maintaining safety.”

The report outlines the assessment criteria to be met before any streets lights could be turned off, to ensure they avoid:

  • roads with a significant road traffic accident record during the proposed switch off period.

  • areas with above average record of crime during the proposed switch off period.

  • areas with a police record of frequent anti-social behaviour during the proposed switch off period.

  • areas provided with CCTV local authority/police surveillance equipment.

  • areas with sheltered housing and other residences accommodating vulnerable people.

  • areas around 24hr operational emergency services sites including hospitals.

  • at formal pedestrian crossings, subways, and enclosed footpaths and alleyways where one end links to a street that is lit all night.

  • areas where there are potential hazards on the highway such as roundabouts, central carriageway islands, chicanes and traffic calming features.

  • Where bus stops are in use during the proposed switch off period.

If agreed, it’s anticipated that lights will start to be switched off from October 2013. Around 3,250 lights on traffic routes will assessed against the criteria at this time. The assessment would be carried out by a partnership made up of the council, emergency services, crime reduction, community safety and road safety representatives.

From March 2014, 4,750 residential street lights would be assessed and switched off if appropriate. The switch off would be completed by September 2016.

The impact of any switch off on levels of crime and road safety would be monitored and lights would be switched back on if there is any adverse impact.

Warning signs would be placed to give people advance notice of the partial night-time switch off and road markings would be upgraded or installed in switch off areas to maintain safety.

In addition, funding has been set aside so the council and Safer Leeds could provide advice to communities on precautions to protect themselves and their properties if they are significantly concerned that a street light switch off will affect them.

For media enquiries please contact:

Amanda Burns, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 395 1577

email: amanda.l.burns@leeds.gov.uk