The goal to replace all of Wokingham Borough’s street lights with new, energy efficient LEDs will move closer if Wokingham Borough Council’s decision-making executive approves the next phase when it meets next week (24 September).
A joint project, with Slough and Reading local authorities, will in Wokingham Borough alone replace some 7,700 aging lighting columns across the borough and give them LED lanterns, and install a further 5,400 LED lanterns on existing columns.
Wokingham Borough Council’s executive is being asked to note the outcome of the joint tender process with Slough and Reading to find a company to carry out the street lighting works in all three boroughs, and also approve the next phase of the scheme.
The new energy efficient lights, along with remote management, dimming and part-night lighting in appropriate locations, will potentially cut the borough’s current street lighting energy consumption and carbon footprint by up to 70 per cent for each new lantern.
With rising energy costs and lower maintenance costs, this has the potential of saving Wokingham Borough’s public purse half a million pounds in the first four years alone.
The project is being part funded, up to £18.9 million, by a Department of Transport Challenge Fund grant secured by the three local authorities earlier this year - to be shared between them.
Wokingham Borough’s share of up to £8.12 million will account for 70 per cent of the costs, with the remainder being topped up by capital funding. By working together, the three authorities have reduced overall costs through ‘bulk buying’, other economies of scale and by sharing overheads.
Slough is the lead authority for the contract. Works are due to start in April next year and are expected to take two years to complete.
White light LEDs give a better ‘quality’ of light more suitable to human eyes. Not only do the modern lights improve the clarity of lit objects but, in turn, pedestrians can feel safer during darker hours.
They also have a smaller carbon footprint than older street lighting because they use up to 65 per cent less electricity and, as they last some 20 years, some existing routine maintenance, such as regular lamp changes, isn’t needed.
Furthermore, the new lanterns are better at directing their light and can therefore reduce general night time light pollution.
Wokingham Borough Council manages more than 16,000 street lights across the borough.
“A large number of our borough’s street lights are nearing the end of their life. Energy expenses account for the largest cost of running street lighting, and cost more than £600,000 in Wokingham Borough last year,” said Cllr John Kaiser, executive member for planning and highways.
“Within the limited funding available from our tightening budgets, we had already started the improvement programme – in the past year we replaced some 700 columns across the borough with new LED lanterns - but this new funding means we can now embark on a larger scale replacement project and therefore reap the benefits, both financially and environmentally, much sooner.
“We’ve also being doing things to reduce costs and our carbon footprint. Six years ago we started to introduce a remote management system that enables dimming and part-night lighting in appropriate locations. Some 2,000 street lights are now part of the scheme.”