As part of the County Council’s ongoing commitment to provide a more efficient highways service, street lighting times have changed as of 1 April 2019. This results in a reduction in energy being used, a reduced carbon footprint and a budget saving. The change will save about 422 kw (421,667 watts).
Approximately 40,000 of the 57,000 street lights in Suffolk are owned and maintained by Suffolk County Council. The change that came in when the clocks went forward, meaning the street lights will switch off at 11.30pm instead of midnight.
This change applies to street lighting in residential areas. SCC will continue to maintain lighting into the early hours of the morning in town centres where people congregate, for example; outside night clubs, and around taxi ranks. In total, about 17,000 of SCC’s lights will continue to be switched on throughout the night. To manage part-night lighting most effectively, all Suffolk street lights are controlled through an intelligent lighting system (ILS). The system has the functionality to enable the switching, on and off, of an individual light, all the lights in a single street or all the lights in an entire neighbourhood.
This intelligent lighting system has enabled us to manage street lighting carefully to ensure the best for Suffolk’s residents, including:
- A newly established protocol with emergency services in Suffolk to allow streets to be lit outside of the normal time to aid with any incidents, such as police investigations;
- Energy savings, resulting in a reduction in the County Council’s carbon footprint;
- Maintaining the lighting into the early hours of the morning, in town centres where night clubs, taxi points and bus stations are situated, to ensure the safety of those enjoying local nightlife; and
- Maintaining the lighting on key routes in and out of town centres, again ensuring the safety of those out and about later in the evening/early hours of the morning.
Careful consideration has been given to the effects that this change would have on many factors, including road safety and crime. Following national implementation, one study indicated that the introduction of a part-night lighting regime had no detrimental impact to the levels of crime during those switch-off times – in fact, contrary to public expectation, it has resulted in reduced crime and anti-social behaviour in many locations. Another study found very little impact on road collisions when lights are switched off, or dimmed.
The County Council’s annual electricity bill for streetlighting is Â£2.46m and is set rise by 10% a year. The change in the timings, alongside our street lights changing to low energy LED lighting units will help negate continual energy price rises. The council is also working on a project looking at reducing the electricity bill further by fitting streetlights with wind vanes and solar panels to make the energy generators rather than energy consumers.