A carbon reduction programme by North Yorkshire County Council to replace 50,400 streetlights with energy saving LED lamps has been completed more quickly and at over £4m less than expected.
North Yorkshire County Council’s street lighting engineers have completed the LED programme within three years across the county’s largest highways network, rather than the five years it was originally estimated to take.
The council’s in-house street lighting team has managed to finish the job significantly below cost, as the programme was expected to cost nearly £13m, however, through procurement, the team brought that cost down to just over £8m.
With capital costs reduced by over £4m and as energy and maintenance savings of £1.285m are projected from 2021/2022, anticipated payback has dropped from over 12 years to under eight years.
Commenting, North Yorkshire County Council’s Executive Member for Access, Councillor Don Mackenzie said: “Against a backdrop of spiralling energy costs and ever rising inflationary pressures, modernising our streetlights had become essential.
“When the decision was taken to make a substantial investment in converting all the county council’s street lights from incandescent to LED, we were confident of getting a 100% return within ten years.
“However, our street lighting team and our highway maintenance contractor made such rapid progress that we are realising the benefits of this project much sooner, as we delivered the programme early and under budget.”
Completion of the programme means improved lighting quality, a reduction in defects and standardisation of the street lighting estate, as well as a significantly reduced carbon footprint with lower energy usage.
The county council is also working with many parish and town councils to convert their streetlights to LED lighting.
Councillor Mackenzie added: “Not only is this of great benefit to taxpayers, but it is of great environmental benefit as well.
“This programme, combined with the fact we also turn off many of our street lights for part of the night, between midnight and 5am, will lead to marked reductions in our carbon footprint, in fact the biggest single factor so far to securing the council’s ambition of achieving carbon neutral status by 2030.”
The LED project was also fundamental to North Yorkshire’s two national parks, Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors, achieving International Dark Sky Reserve status in December 2020, becoming one of the largest areas in Europe to be simultaneously designated.
North Yorkshire County Council’s street lighting engineers had agreed that, as part of the street lights replacement programme, that they would replace lights across the national parks with warmer tone LED lights (3,000 kelvin), rather than the cooler tone LED lights (4,000 kelvin) they were installing elsewhere.
Also, the council has written to both national parks to say it will continue to support the dark skies initiative through its lighting programmes.