Concerns About LED Street Lighting

A significant number of residents have contacted local councillor Steve Delaney to raise concerns about lighting levels since the council upgraded the street lighting to LED bulbs.

These bulbs are much cheaper to run, they last much longer, they are less likely to fail, they significantly reduce our carbon footprint and the lighting in their immediate vicinity is much improved.

However, the radius of the area illuminated around each column is significantly reduced, resulting in dark spots between the columns, unlit driveways and the entrances to people’s homes no longer being illuminated. This in turn has led to safety concerns with regard to fear of crime and possible trip hazards for people who are perhaps unsteady on their feet or have poor eyesight.

Steve said, “I have raised these concerns and more with the council and I have also tried to explore possible solutions with them”.

“The council has responded by saying that the aim was get the electricity costs and carbon footprint as low as possible while still achieving the required lighting levels that the public were used to and also that of the British Standards which set the minimum levels for lighting”.

“I’m informed that by using white light, facial recognition is better than that of orange light sources and the new LED lanterns are much more focussed in where they direct their light with a dramatic reduction in ‘spill light’ which may have led to the perception that the area is less lit due to the fact that house gardens and paths are no longer illuminated”.

It appears that the council has an obligation to light adopted roads and footpaths. Unfortunately they are not under any obligation to illuminate driveways or private footpaths leading to residents’ doors. In that respect the wider angled beam of the older style lighting was subject to a fair amount of light spillage and therefore better at giving a uniform lighting level in all areas.

Steve asked for tests to be carried out in a few streets to ensure they did indeed meet the minimum British Standard with respect to lighting levels. In every case they actually exceeded that minimum standard. The issue seems to be that the lit areas are fine, it’s the unlit areas that are causing understandable concern.

Steve said, “I have asked about any possible ways the dark spots could perhaps be eliminated. One suggestion was that perhaps the height of the columns could be shortened. However,  it appears they had in fact been heightened to improve the uniformity of lighting across the length of the street and to reduce the number of light and dark areas in the street”.

“Another idea was to fit reflectors around the bulbs to increase lighting levels. I was informed that every lantern has specially designed optics around each LED to make sure that the lantern puts the light exactly where it is required and that it is not possible to fit reflectors around the bulb as could be done with the old style lanterns”.

Steve concluded, “As long as the council is meeting the legal minimum standards, which they appear to be, then nothing is going to change.”

“The only solution I can see is for householders to install additional lighting, possibly motion activated, in order to illuminate any dark spots on their own property.  It’s something myself and my neighbours had to do some years ago as our street has always been particularly badly lit”.