The Council has approved plans for changes to street lighting designed to save 25 percent of current energy usage.
The changes will be implemented over four years and will include:
- Switching off completely some lights where they are no longer considered necessary
- Dimming of some lights on main roads between the hours of 10pm and 7am when traffic flows are low and a lower level of lighting will not affect road safety
- Switching off some lights between midnight and 5.30am (plus or minus 15 minutes) in residential areas in consultation with local communities.
Care will be taken not to reduce the level of lighting in areas where there is an above-average level of crime or where there is a high risk of road traffic accidents. Detailed exception criteria have been developed in consultation with the emergency services and the Accident Investigation Unit and have been approved by the Cabinet.
Why changes to street lighting are necessary
The electricity bill for street lighting has increased dramatically from £1.05m in 2004/05 to an estimated £6m in 2015/16 and, over the long term, energy prices are likely to continue to rise. Meanwhile the County Council is predicting that it will have to take £150m off its current budget over the next three years to deal with the financial pressures it faces.
We are committed to reducing CO2 emissions arising from our activities. Our target is to reduce overall carbon emissions by 2 percent per year between 2007 and 2012.
The Government is encouraging large users of energy to reduce their usage through the mandatory Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme. Under this scheme the Council will have to purchase allowances for every tonne of CO2 we emit. This will add £400,000 to the annual cost of street lighting unless electricity usage is reduced.
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Saving energy and money
When the four year programme is complete, it is estimated that electricity usage will be reduced by over 10 million kWh per year which is about 25 percent of the 2009/10 usage. This will save about £1.25m per year at 2010/11 electricity prices. Savings in CO2 emissions will be about 5,800 tonnes per year, saving a further £70,000 on the purchase of carbon allowances.
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A wide range of options were considered including:
- Removal of lighting
- Switching off lighting and leaving equipment in-situ
- Dimming of lighting
- Part-night lighting
- Removing traffic sign illumination (where no longer needed)
- Changing lighting controller LUX levels
- LED lighting
- Solar energy.
Each option was evaluated in terms of its initial cost and the savings that would be achieved. Comparisons were made of the pay-back period, i.e. the number of years to recoup the initial cost. Potential impacts were also considered and the outcomes of trials by other local authorities used to inform the choices made.
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What other councils are doing
A small number of local authorities led the way in introducing street lighting energy saving measures, although it is likely that all authorities are now considering the issue in view of the economic downturn and pressure on budgets.
Part-night lighting pilots by Essex and Gloucestershire County Councils were considered to be successful due to the energy savings made without increases in crime or traffic accidents during the pilot periods.
Powys found it necessary to turn some lights back on because of initial problems but have now improved their consultation process and are proceeding with the initiative.
West Sussex County Council have used part-night lighting since the oil crisis in the 1970s and two-thirds of their residential roads are on part-night lighting.
Leicestershire County Council started on a four-year programme similar to ours early in 2010 and this is progressing well without any major problems.
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Monitoring crime and traffic accidents
The County Council does not have a legal duty to provide street lighting but has the power to do so under the Highways Act 1980. It also has a duty to do all that it reasonably can to prevent crime and disorder and also a duty to carry out measures designed to promote road safety. Each site at which a reduction in street lighting is being considered will be looked at individually to assess the potential impact on crime and disorder and on road safety. Our legal advice is that 30 mph speed limits will not be affected if the lights are switched off.
Experience from other local authorities shows that, providing proposals are carefully designed following an assessment of local conditions, fears of increased road accidents or crime have not been realised. We shall be working closely with the emergency services, Community Safety and our Accident Investigation Unit to design proposals that take into account local conditions such as crime and accident rates. We shall also be monitoring the impacts following implementation of the changes and there is provision for reversing any of the changes should the need arise.
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If you have concerns about crime or community safety and wish to access safety/security advice please go to the following website: www.nottinghamshirealert.co.uk
Nottinghamshire Alert is a messaging system that allows Nottinghamshire Police, Neighbourhood Watch and other public organisations to distribute messages concerning community safety to members of the public quickly and efficiently.
You can also access the websites of National Neighbourhood Watch and Crimestoppers directly from this website.
For more localised information you can access the local Neighbourhood Alert websites:
The equipment needed to dim lights can be fairly expensive and the energy saved by dimming needs to be sufficient to pay back this initial expense within a few years to make it worthwhile. For this reason dimming is only justified on lights rated at 150 watts or more which are generally found on main roads. We are currently working on a programme of dimming for the County and more information will be published when this has been established.
Light-emitting diode (LED) lighting has previously been too expensive to invest in but advances in technology over recent years has resulted in this now being an economic alternative for our maintenance replacement programme. There are lots of manufacturers in the market and we therefore need to investigate this as an option before fully committing. We are currently in the process of implementing trials on four LED light manufacturers and will be measuring performance, future requirements for maintenance and design and residents views via the use of questionnaire.
We have four trials areas set up with the first area implemented in December 2012. The four trial areas are as follows:
- Patrick Road, West Bridgford
- Freda Close, Carlton
- Deep Furrows Avenue, Carlton
- Harris Road, Chilwell
Questionnaire results will be published in March 2013.
Motion-sensing switches, such as those which operate security lights have been considered, however most of the street lighting in use today requires a warm-up period of several minutes to reach full output and is, therefore, not suitable for this type of switching.
It is often suggested that one in two, or one in three, lights should be left on all night. This is not usually acceptable practice as it would create very inconsistent lighting conditions with alternate pools of light and dark. This is particularly unsatisfactory for drivers as it does not give their eyes time to adjust to the varying lighting levels. It is sometimes necessary to leave individual lights on all night to illuminate potential hazards on the highway for road safety purposes.
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Which lights will be affected?
All street lights are being considered but each site will undergo a risk assessment to decide which lights should be left on for reasons of safety or crime prevention. Once your area has been assessed, draft proposals will be drawn up and published on the County Council’s website and a six week consultation period will begin. All feedback will be carefully considered and the proposals will be modified if necessary before being confirmed for implementation.
An initial programme was drawn up to cover the whole of the County systematically over a period of four years, this has recently been updated to allow for a review of the schemes already implemented to take place.
Two project teams, working in the north and the south of the County, have started in the districts of Bassetlaw and Rushcliffe.
A small number of proposals were developed first for some rural villages that expressed an interest in the project in order to test out the design and consultation process.
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What time will the lights go on/off?
Lights affected will be switched off from midnight to 5.30am (+/- 15 mins) Grenwich Mean Time (GMT). During British Summer Time (BST) these street lights will turn off at 1am (+/- 15 mins) and turn back on at 06.30 (+/- 15 mins) if it is still dark.
Let us know your views on the Council's Street Lighting Energy Saving Programme by completing the online feedback form, or contacting your local County Councillor or the Contact Centre.
Please do not use this form to respond to consultations on specific proposals for your area. These should be sent to Street Lighting Energy Saving, Environment & Resources Dept, Trent Bridge House, Fox Road, West Bridgford, Nottingham, NG2 6BJ or email email@example.com.
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