Posted: Sun 14th Jan 2024

Flintshire Council explores plans to further cut back on street lighting hours

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Sunday, Jan 14th, 2024

Some streetlights in Flintshire could be switched off for longer periods at night under new council plans to reduce energy costs, as the local authority looks to bridge a significant budget deficit.

The move follows the council’s successful completion of a two-year programme, ending in 2019, to convert all street lanterns in the county to LED, significantly reducing carbon emissions and operational costs.

The current part-night lighting approach involves dimming street lights between 10 pm and 6am, which has been shown to result in energy savings of up to 30%.

Most lanterns are equipped with automatic sensors (photocells) that adjust the lighting based on the natural light available.

The council is now working on plans to deliver further ‘efficiencies’ following next year’s budget allocation from the Welsh Government which currently leaves County Hall with around a £13m black hole to fill.

One of the key strategies being considered is the extension of part-night lighting or further dimming of lights in line with current policy.

The proposal to extend part-night lighting could save thousands of pounds, a report to go before the council cabinet committee this week states:

“Any areas proposed for part night lighting will be subjected to a risk assessment and consultation.”

“Such consultations would include the Police, local ward members and other interested parties where required.”

“By extending the part night lighting a financial saving of approximately £12k per 1,000 lanterns will be delivered.”

The move is part of a revamped street lighting policy which the council cabinet will discuss.

Street lighting is crucial for safe navigation in the dark, reducing traffic accidents, and bolstering community welfare.

Underpinned by the Highways Act 1980 and other relevant legislation, the updated policy provides a framework for maintaining and upgrading the existing street lighting infrastructure.

This includes over 21,000 street lighting units and 112 traffic signal junctions, which are integral for road safety.

Facing budget constraints and aging infrastructure, the council is challenged with maintaining its street lighting.

Around 60% of the lighting assets are beyond their 30-year life expectancy, necessitating replacements that the current budget of £296,000 for 2023-2024 (excluding energy costs) does not fully cover.

The cost of powering street lights in Flintshire has been hit by rising energy costs, which currently stand at about £950,000 annually, adding to the budgetary pressure.

Currently, the council faces an immediate need to replace or remove 673 lighting columns, along with approximately 220 illuminated signs, which is estimated to cost around £1.79 million.

This task is critical and must be completed within this financial year. Regular inspections have identified about 160 columns each year that require immediate action due to structural issues.

Additionally, an increasing number of columns are needing yearly re-inspections, indicating a likely rise in future replacement needs.

The estimated cost for these replacements, excluding illuminated signs and bollards, stands at £1.35 million.

This figure is expected to increase by roughly £400,000 per year, in addition to the current costs.

Notably, there is no allocated budget or funding available for these replacements or for capital improvements to the lighting infrastructure.

Beyond lighting, the revised policy addresses the need for additional electrical infrastructure to support the growing use of EVs and essential installations like vehicle-activated signs and defibrillators.

Flintshire’s revised street lighting policy will be reviewed by the council cabinet when they meet on January 16.

 

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