West Berkshire Council has defended its multi-million pound project to replace all street lamps in the district with new eco-friendly LED lights, following criticism from residents.
Fifty per cent of the district’s street lights have now been replaced with LED (light-emitting diode) lamps in the scheme which it is hoped will reduce the cash-strapped council’s energy consumption by half.
However, safety issues have been raised by some who say the new lights can cause ill health, create dangerous driving conditions and lead to sporadic lighting along the district’s streets.
One resident, Philp Horsley of Thatcham (pictured), wrote to West Berkshire Council to voice his concerns
stating that “when driving they are very intense and glare in your eyes” and also highlighting the “dark patches” along the streets.
Speaking to the Newbury Weekly News, Mr
Horsley added: “I just wonder whether the council has considered all of the potential consequences with this change from the old sodium lights to new LEDs.
“One of the things I noted was that the lights are white; when driving round a bend the glare can look like car headlights coming towards you.
“I just feel like the council has gone ahead with this to save money without thinking about the consequences.”
Mr Horsley, who works in sales, also pointed to a number of studies suggesting that LED lighting can affect sleeping patterns and lead to lower-quality sleep for residents with the energy-saving lamps outside their windows.
Fellow Thatcham resident, Trevor Franklin of Paynesdown Road, also voiced concerns over the amount of light provided by the new LED lamps.
He said: “There is not much light from the new bulbs. They are not, in my opinion, providing security and, with the proposals to get rid of CCTV cameras in Thatcham, I don’t think that for security reasons they are a good idea.”
West Berkshire Council spokesman Martin Dunscombe said that the new installation would provide better lighting as well as being better for the environment.
Despite the environmental and financial benefits, LED street lighting projects have led to criticism of local authorities up and down the UK, with Bath and North-East Somerset Council going so far as to put their project on hold in 2013 due to the large number of complaints from residents.
The money-saving project in West Berkshire has so far seen 4,226 street lights changed to LED since July, in addition to the 2,285 that had already been changed prior to the project starting.
Mr Dunscombe added: “This has been a carefully- considered project which offers many benefits for our communities.
“Indeed, we know from a lot of positive feedback that local residents welcome and support the scheme.
“The LED lamps do have a different appearance to traditional sodium lamps but we have installed more than 4,500 with very few complaints.
“Furthermore, the information we’ve gathered does not indicate that there is any impact on health.
Crews are currently operating in the Thatcham, Newbury, Tilehurst and Calcot areas as part of the £7.24m scheme, which has been partly funded by a £5m grant from central government.
The project will see a total of 10,000 non-LED lights installed over a one-year period and is
estimated to save the council £4.87m over the next 25 years and £310,000 by 2017/18.