New LED street lights are cheaper and greener – but not everybody is happy
New energy efficient council street lights are saving taxpayers’ money and the earth’s scarce resources but have generated more than 200 complaints.
Cheshire West and Chester Council anticipates the LED lights, which use a fraction of the energy of sodium lamps and last much longer, will result in a 60% annual saving.
But a Freedom of Information response also reveals 220 complaints have been received from across the borough.
And The Chronicle took a phone call from a Chester resident suggesting the bright white lights were not in keeping with a Victorian street scene compared with the warmer orange glow from traditional lamps.
CWaC, which is spending £1.7 million per year on the LED replacement project, has revealed most complaints concern the new LED lights shining into properties, especially bedrooms.
For these complaints, the council says a shield can be installed on the front or rear of the lantern to block the light – the light can also be diffused by installing a louver on the bottom of the lens.
First generation high-intensity LEDs emitted a blue light which can adversely affect circadian sleep rhythms, leading to reduced duration and quality of sleep.
But the council says its LED lanterns have a colour rating of 3,900 to 4,200 kelvin, which is ‘bright white’ not blue light.
Other complaints concern the lights not being bright enough due to the lanterns being designed to minimise light pollution by only lighting the surface below and not surrounding open areas or property driveways and gardens
Big drivers in replacing streets lamps with LED are reduced costs and environmental benefits.
Councillor Karen Shore, cabinet member for environment, said previously: “The key objective of our LED replacement programme is to reduce carbon emissions and make savings on energy consumption costs.”
“Also most current lamps in the borough have a guaranteed life of three years. The LED technology we are using has manufacturers’ warranties for 12 years and could last as long as 20 years.”
Some people will miss the sodium lamps which throw out a warming ‘yesteryear’ glow.
However, heritage LED lighting is available for historical streers where consideration will be given to the installation of 2,700 kelvin LED units which produce a yellow light or warm white. The downside is such lighting is not as energy efficient so will only be used at a small number of locations.
Everyone must accept that while the future may be bright it won’t be orange as the only manufacturer making the traditional sodium lights will cease production in 2020 and switch to LED.