ENGINEERS who have begun installing energy-saving streetlights in a Yorkshire city have claimed the environmentally-friendly technology will have the added benefit of cutting light pollution across a neighbouring national park.
The Yorkshire Post revealed two months ago that a survey by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) had found light pollution was blurring the distinction between the region’s rural and urban areas.
Its experts pointed out the problem in the Peak District National Park, part of which lies within the Sheffield city boundary, and called for action to curb the continued spread of unwanted nighttime light.
Yesterday, Sheffield Council said every single one of its streetlights is to be replaced and added that by the time the project was completed the city would “no longer be visible from the Peak District”.
The authority has more than 68,000 streetlights under its control and each one will be replaced with light emitting diode (LED) technology, which uses less electricity but produces a bright, white light.
The huge project will be carried out as part of the city’s £2bn, 25-year Streets Ahead PFI scheme, which has made private contractor Amey responsible for roads maintenance.
Amey’s workers have already started resurfacing some of the city’s notoriously pothole-ridden roads and has now begun to work on other aspects of the deal, with lighting being installed in streets in the Darnall area.
Sheffield Council’s highways spokesman, Coun Jack Scott, said the LED lights were “more directional”, meaning that all the light produced was directed on to the street, unlike old-fashioned sodium lamps.
He added: “It is great to see the new LED streetlights starting to be installed. This lighting will provide many benefits for the whole city, such as creating safer and more attractive streets and making star gazing easier.
“They will also give us the ability to better control our streetlights. For example if there is a football match or a major event in the city, we will be able to increase the lighting levels before the match starts.
“We can then reduce the level while the match or event is on and then increase it again when fans leave.
“Once fully installed in five years time, Sheffield will be the only city in Europe with a fully controllable LED streetlighting system. Sheffield will also disappear from the Peak District as much less light will be lost into the night sky. The blue light is also a lot more pleasant than the bright orange.”
According to the council and Amey, each individual streetlight will “inform” a central system when it is not working, which will cut the need for so-called incident support units to tour the city looking for broken lights.
The new lighting heads will also be made up of a number of small LED light bulbs rather than one bulb, meaning that even if several bulbs fail the light will still work and provide the same level of light.
Once they have been fully installed, it is estimated that the new lights will cut Sheffield Council’s energy consumption for streetlighting by at least 40 per cent.
Amey’s operations director, Chris Morris, said: “We will be installing new state-of-the-art streetlights across the city as part of our zonal approach to improving the city’s roads, pavements, bridges, streetlights and streetscene.
“As part of our streetlighting programme, each of the 68,000 lights due for replacement will be examined to ensure they fall in line with current national streetlighting guidance on their position in the street.
“In some cases we will need to replace a lighting column in a different position, but I would like to assure members of the public that if we do need to replace a streetlight in a different position we will discuss this with local residents before the work is carried out.”
Amey will spend five years carrying out all the maintenance work required on Sheffield’s roads, while the remaining 20 years of the PFI contract commit the firm to maintaining the streets at the same high standard.
The firm said it had “devised a zonal approach” to allow it to carry out the work in five years, with several teams working in several different areas at one time.
Residents have been told that work on individual roads will take between a fortnight and four weeks to complete.
Roads, pavements, bridges and retaining walls, traffic lights, signs fences and even trees fall under the programme’s remit.