Agenda Item No
The Vale of Glamorgan Council
Cabinet Meeting: 20 October, 2014
Report of the Cabinet Member for the Environment and Visible Services
Street Lighting Energy Reduction Strategy
Purpose of the Report
1. To obtain the approval of Cabinet to a number of changes in the Council's street lighting arrangements aimed at significantly reducing future costs and energy consumption.
1. That Cabinet agrees to the implementation of a street lighting strategy based on the principle of a move to full LED lighting over time (if funding becomes available) with part night lighting introduced for all appropriate areas of conventional street lighting in the interim. Option 6 in this report.
2. That Cabinet authorises the Director of Visible Services to invite tenders for the installation of part night timing devices for the Council's conventional street lighting stock.
3. That a further report be provided to Cabinet detailing the full street lighting energy reduction strategy on conclusion of the 'part night' street lighting introduction and discussions with potential partners.
4. That this report be referred to the Economy and Environment Scrutiny Committee for information.
Reasons for the Recommendations
1. To obtain agreement on the main principles of a new street lighting strategy, fit for the financial and environmental challenges ahead.
2. To provide authority to engage contractors to undertake all works associated with the change to part night street lighting in accordance with option 6 of this report.
3. To allow Cabinet to agree the full 10 year strategy when all future street lighting management options have been considered by officers.
4. To inform the appropriate Scrutiny Committee.
2. There is no statutory requirement on local authorities in the UK to provide public lighting. The Highways Act 1980 empowers local highway authorities to light roads but does not place a duty on them to do so. This Council, as local highway authority, does however have a duty of care to its road users and therefore, it could be deemed, is subject to an obligation to light certain parts of the highway dependent on the level of risk posed. The Council also has a statutory duty under the Highways Act to ensure the safety of the highway and this includes any lighting equipment placed on it. Further, the Council should give regard to its duties under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, ensuring that any of its decisions take into account the possible effects on crime and disorder in an area.
3. The Council relies on unmetered electricity supplies to power its 15,795 street lights. For unmetered supplies a cost for each light unit is established based on its energy consumption and time lit, this is then totalled by the electricity supplier to provide an annual supply cost. The Council's street lighting energy costs have increased by 28% per unit of energy since 2011/12 and this trend looks set to continue.
4. As of 1st July 2014, 2247 lower wattage LED lanterns had been installed, 514 lower wattage white lanterns had been installed, 1492 street lamps had been dimmed between midnight and 6am, and 1975 street lights dimmed between 10:00 p.m. and 06:00 a.m. These changes have saved in excess of £60k per annum in energy costs, reducing emissions by 300 tonnes of CO² ‚ per annum.
5. Funding from the Local Government Borrowing Initiative (LGBI) slipped from 2013/14 will see a further 841 lower wattage LED lanterns fitted, providing further energy savings of £27,780 and a reduction in CO²‚emissions of 129 tonnes. Phase 2 of the LGBI funding, also to be completed during 2014/15, will see a further 1400 lower wattage LED lanterns fitted, providing further energy savings of £46,246 per annum and a corresponding reduction in CO² emissions of 215 tonnes per annum.
6. At the end of 2014/15 the Council's street lamp stock of 15,795 units will feature 4,488 LED lanterns, 514 lower wattage white lanterns and 3,467 lanterns that feature some form of dimming. Over 28% of the Council's lighting stock will be LED by the end of the year and as will be explained later in the report, due to the energy and maintenance savings offered by this technology, it is proposed that the overriding strategic principle for the future of street lighting in the Vale will be a move to full LED. Typically LED lighting units use 40% less energy than conventional street lighting lanterns. The Council does not however have sufficient funds to implement this change in the short to medium term and our cost saving need is urgent, so the report will consider a range of options aimed at reducing our energy costs and consumption during the time it will take to implement full LED lighting arrangements.
7. The Council maintains its existing street lighting stock 'in house' utilising the service of a small street lighting team based in the Highways and Engineering Services Division of Visible Services. The Street Lighting Manager left his post at the end of December 2013 and these duties are currently being undertaken by existing staff. The post has not been re-advertised in view of the considerable future financial challenges faced by the division and a need to establish if the street lighting maintenance service could be delivered more cost efficiently via alternative means. This will be investigated as part of the 'Reshaping Services' programme.
Relevant Issues and Options
The Financial Challenges
8. During the past eight years electricity costs for unmetered supplies have risen dramatically. This is despite the Council purchasing its energy at the lowest possible price via the South Wales Authorities Purchasing Consortium. The energy cost for 2013 / 2014 increased by 4.55% over the previous year and increased again by 4.57% for 2014 / 2015, resulting in a unit rate of 11.5247 pence per kw/h. Predictions suggest that energy supply prices will continue to rise in future years at above inflation rates. The Council's energy costs have not risen commensurate with the unit price increases since 2013 due to a number of energy reduction measures introduced during the period, including LED lighting and 'dimming' systems.
9. Even assuming the conclusion of all new technology works planned for 2014/15, the energy costs for 2015/16 (with a further 5% energy price increase) are projected to be £919k This is £168k over the budget that will be available.
10. This Council's Final Revenue Budget Proposals report for 2011/12 featured a budget reduction of £200k for Street Lighting Energy costs. Whilst some savings were made by the introduction of various new lighting technologies, this proved insufficient, particularly due to the ever increasing unit prices for energy. As previously advised, the Street Lighting function sits within the Highways and Engineering section of Visible Services and these savings were put forward to avoid having to reduce front-line services. As the full savings were not made during the 2011/12 period, it was necessary to use funding from Visible Services reserves during 2011/12 to bridge the funding gap. This funding had been set aside from an underspend in 2010/11. Since 2012/13 the budget gap has been funded from one off underspends elsewhere within the directorate.
11. The Final Revenue Budget Report for 2014 / 2015 identified a further budget reduction of £75k for street lighting energy, with a further £100k saving being offered up for 2016/17. These savings will not be realised by incremental measures similar to those previously described and the financial outlook for 2015 - 2017 looks considerably more challenging, meaning that further energy cost savings must be given full consideration. The anticipated budget for 2016/17 including energy costs for traffic signals and road signs will be approximately £670k. If no action is taken the estimated energy costs in that year will be circa £970k, which would mean a budget shortfall of £300k. The service cannot rely on the use of reserves going forward or underspends from elsewhere in the service and action needs to be taken now to realise the maximum savings possible, of course giving appropriate regard to our legal duties. Any savings that reduce the cost below the proposed £670k budget in 2016/17 will assist in funding future increases in energy prices; it will also help to ensure that more funding is available to help maintain service standards for our residents in the most important front line service areas.
12. To be clear, the current and future budget positions mean that continuing to light the Vale's highways, throughout the full evening to early morning periods, utilising our existing stock of conventional, dimmed, low energy white light and LED street lights is not an option. The high energy consumption of our remaining old style street lighting units is adding to the financial burden and this is explained later in the report.
The Environmental Challenges
13. Since the introduction of the Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme (CRC) in 2014 there has been a charge levied for each tonne of CO² produced related to the energy used to power street lamps. For this financial year the Council has purchased 17,820 CRC units to cover its overall CO² impact with 14,000 of these units expected to be used this year. Approximately 1/3 of this amount (4 - 5000 tonnes) is directly attributable to street lighting. The units were purchased at £15.60 per tonne which gives a total cost of £277,992.00. In its simplest terms, this amounts to a carbon tax; £62,400 - £78,000 of this carbon tax relating directly to street lighting.
14. The Council is committed to reducing its carbon emissions by 20% before 2016, in accordance with its carbon management plan, and reducing energy use from street lights will be one of the main contributors to this target.
15. With no changes to the lighting 'burn' times (the length of time that the lights are switched on), and assuming completion of all works planned for 2014/15, this street lighting arrangement would produce 3,338 tonnes of CO². As an example of what could be achieved; it is estimated that a change to full LED would reduce the current energy costs by circa £322k and CO² emissions by 1,427 Tonnes (further savings per annum on CRC of £22,261 @ £15.60 per Tonne).
16. In 2007 the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution produced its 26th report entitled 'The Urban Environment'. The report identified light pollution as a significant factor shaping local environmental quality. Further work by the Commission in 2009, entitled 'Artificial Light in the Environment,' sought to examine the increasing pervasiveness of outdoor artificial light on the natural environment, including the loss of visual amenity represented by the obscuring of the night sky. In commenting on the potential effects of light pollution from road lighting the latter report concluded: "We recommend that the highway authorities and local authorities reassess the lighting of roads against the potential road safety and crime reduction benefits". Whilst the report touched on many areas, including new lighting technology such as LED, the overriding theme of its recommendations was to encourage a reduction in future outdoor lighting sources to both protect public health and improve the visual amenity offered by the 'night sky.'
17. A number of rural towns and villages in England have successfully trialled schemes where all street lights have been switched off, enabling much improved visual access to the night sky. These schemes have attracted visitors to the areas keen to examine the greatly improved astronomy offered by the absence of local light pollution. Following on this theme, in 2013 the Brecon Beacons National Park was the first location in Wales to be awarded 'Dark Sky Status'. This International status means the night-sky is protected and lighting controls are in place to prevent light pollution. More and more National Parks and large open space areas are pursuing this accreditation, in recognition of the environmental kudos that if offers.
18. There are several renewable energy options such as solar and wind power alternatives which could be used to further decrease energy costs, but at present, these systems are in their infancy. Technology is however advancing very quickly, particularly with the use of LED lanterns, which could be used to link with these new technologies to create an additional previously unattainable market opportunity in the future.
19. Stand-alone solar powered street lighting is a non-polluting source of energy which is totally independent of the utility grid utilising a battery to provide electricity to the lantern during the hours of darkness. This battery is charged during the daylight hours with the use of a photovoltaic cell (solar panel). There are several systems which have an additional method to charge the battery with the use of rotating blades powered by wind to provide enough energy to charge the batteries to deliver several hours of light.
20. Solar powered lighting could be considered in rural locations as an economic alternative to traditional lighting systems that do not require dusk until dawn operation. This is mainly due to the batteries not being sufficiently charged during the winter daylight hours in the northern hemisphere to provide full dusk to dawn lighting. At this stage such systems are not in widespread use in the UK. A further disadvantage of the solar powered lighting is that a build-up of snow or dust, combined with moisture can accumulate on the solar panel which can have the effect of reducing or completely stopping the energy production. Further, the initial investment is much higher than a conventional street light and the batteries need to be replaced several times during the lifetime of the fixture. Solar panels are currently being used in the Vale of Glamorgan on certain traffic islands with the use of solar powered illuminated bollards. Additionally, there are two solar/wind powered lighting columns in use in the Llantwit Major area.
21. Whilst our small scale trials on renewable energy highway lighting will continue as the technology develops, at this current stage it is neither sufficiently reliable nor economically efficient to be used on any significant scale.
22. Street lighting energy savings have either been made or proposed throughout many Councils in the UK with English authorities in particular leading on many such initiatives, due mostly to reductions in their funding from the Westminster Government over recent years. Liverpool City Council recently announced a plan to change all its 22,500 street lamps to LED (note background papers). This follows similar decisions in Trafford, Bury, Leicestershire and Gloucestershire. Many Welsh Councils are also starting to embrace this new street lighting technology, including Swansea, Powys and Ceredigion. Street lighting energy saving schemes range from switching off lights either in full or 'part night', through to dimming lights either individually or via 'Central Management Technology' (CMS), through to lower energy use lanterns, such as LED, or a combination of a range of such options.
23. As previously advised, by the end of 2014/15, the Council's street lighting stock will comprise; 4,488 LED lanterns, 514 lower wattage white light lanterns and 10,847 high pressure sodium (SON) or low pressure sodium (SOX) lanterns. The Council requires a sustainable future lighting strategy which will ensure that appropriate street lighting is provided and maintained, whilst also realising the maximum financial and environmental benefits available. The strategy should also take account of the fact that considerable investment has already been made in changing almost 1/3 of the Council's lighting stock to LED. It also needs to recognise that there is limited funding for investment in future years.
24. Taking into account the Council's current street lighting stock position (end of 2014/15) and the level of financial savings required by the Council over the next 3 years, there are a range of street lighting options that can form the principles of a future strategy. A summary of the costs and savings that could be realised by these options along with the environmental impacts and payback periods is attached at Appendix A. An appraisal of the various options is as follows:
Option 1 – Do nothing
25. The total street lighting energy calculations are inclusive of road furniture and traffic signals. The total energy cost for financial year 2013/2014 was £922,000. There was a 4.57% increase on energy costs for financial year 2014/2015 which even taking into account the energy reduction methods used, would suggest a projected full year energy cost of £875,000. Estimated figures for 2015 / 2016 based on a 5% increase in energy would bring our total energy bill to £919,000. This is against a projected budget, (which assumes future savings) of £750,000 for 2015/16 and £670,000 for 2016/17. As previously mentioned the Council would therefore have a budget shortfall of approximately £300k in 2016/17 if no action was taken.
Option 2 – Change to full LED
26. This is not entirely feasible as 5.5% of the lighting stock (877 lighting columns) have a decorative/ornate style of lantern, and to date, there is no option to replace these luminaires with LED units, though manufacturers may be able to introduce a retrofit style LED lanterns in the future. From a perspective of 'lighting continuity' and 'resident satisfaction' this would be the most positive option of those being considered as it would permit all lights to stay on from dusk until dawn, and would give energy savings of £321,537.16 per annum and CO² savings of 1,427 tonnes per annum. However the option is cost prohibitive in the short term at over £4m with a payback period of longer than 13 years. This option is therefore not feasible at this time.
Option 3 – Change to full LED with a Central Management System (CMS)
27. A CMS system enables lighting levels and timings to be adjusted remotely across the entire street lighting portfolio. These systems tend to be used in areas with significant numbers of lights across a range of different types of lighting demands, e.g. inner city and rural. The CMS is monitored with a trunk server which uses 'nodes' which are installed in each luminaire. A 'branch' must also be installed on site which has the capacity to communicate with 260 'nodes'. The luminaire control gear must be compatible with the CMS system and therefore several lighting columns would need uprated control gear. There is a service level agreement (SLA) for the CMS which equates to £250 per year per branch and an additional £1.50 per year per 'node'. The SLA in total would equate to approximately £43,550 per year.
28. It would be virtually impossible to establish the exact savings in energy costs from utilising this system until a specific switching regime was put into place for each individual luminaire i.e.: dimming, part night, switch off etc. Appendix A therefore indicates either the 12 am or 1 am part night operation, but there would be an additional savings element should this option be chosen. Again the investment required for this option is prohibitive.
Option 4 - Retain LED current lighting arrangements and dim all remaining SON and SOX and alike light lanterns
29. SOX lighting cannot be dimmed so these have been taken out of the equation; though their stock is minimal, there may be a possibility of installing LED modules into these lanterns retrospectively at some time in the future. The dimming option is relatively expensive in payback terms and does not provide sufficient financial or environmental savings. A large number of existing street lights have already been dimmed and, in the majority of cases, residents have not noticed this change. No increased crime or disorder issues have been reported in these areas, where any reduction in street lighting illumination has been sited, and there has also been no related increase in recorded road traffic collisions.
Option 5 – Retain LED stock and part night (1am) 70% of the remaining stock
30. In order to maintain night-time economy areas and the safety of certain highway junctions it has been assumed that 10% of each type of non LED light source (30% in total) would retain dusk until dawn operation with the remaining being part night. The part night operation controls (mounted in the lanterns themselves) would switch lights on at dusk, off at 1am then back on at 6am until dawn. This option provides the second highest cost and carbon savings but there is likely to be some public opposition to the absence of lighting in the majority of areas after 1am. With residents likely to site personal safety, crime and highway safety concerns. This would have to be carefully managed and communicated with risk assessments undertaken for all highway routes where lights are to be switched off. Some additional investment may be required for white lining and 'cats eye' work and this will be assessed as part of the process. It is envisaged that lighting at main highway junctions will remain on. Also the Police would have to be consulted, and crime and disorder 'hot spots' and CCTV areas considered, as part of the switch off process.
Option 6 – Retain LED stock and part night (12am) 70% of the remaining stock
31. As Option 5 above but with an earlier switch off time. Clearly, the greater the period of light 'switch off' the more challenging the decision, but this option provides the greatest savings in terms of both costs; £371,862.71 per annum and carbon 1,338 tonnes per annum, and is therefore the preferred principle for the street lighting strategy.
32. As option 5 but with all lighting stock on CMS. The payback period on this option is too long due to the installation and running costs of the CMS system.
33. As option 6 but with all lighting stock on CMS. The payback period on this option is too long due to the installation and running costs of the CMS system.
Option 8 - Permanently switch off all lights
34. In order to switch off all street lights, our electricity distribution company would probably insist on permanently disconnecting their service supply cables from the entry points which would consist of 12,026 underground services, 1205 overhead services and approximately 2469 lighting columns with a private cable network which can be isolated from local feeder pillars. This is not a viable option due mostly to health and safety concerns.
35. The graph attached as Appendix B provides an indication of the projected impact of rising energy costs over a 15 year period. The graph shows a 'Do Nothing' option alongside the projected budget and also the cost of the preferred option (option 6). This clearly shows that the 'Do Nothing' option is unaffordable in the current economic climate. Option 6 however provides additional savings to those already offered, which could potentially be used to lessen the impact on other frontline services.
36. The principle of the preferred street lighting strategy is to progress option 6 but to also continue to change all remaining non LED lights to LED when the relevant funding becomes available. At this stage it is suggested that all LED lights remain on from dusk until dawn, but this position will be reviewed throughout the term of the strategy, as greater learning is obtained from the 'part night' lit areas. The lighting strategy will be for a period of 10 years from 2015 until 2025 and will be fully drafted for consideration by elected Members on conclusion of discussions with the private sector and neighbouring Councils. A range of financial models could be available that could see the transition to LED supported by private funding, should for example a long term supply and maintenance partnership be available (up to 25 years). Effectively bringing the transition to full LED lighting technology forward via a scheduled funded programme.
37. Whilst changing to low energy white lighting technology and using 'dimming' has, and will continue to provide energy reductions, no other forms of technology realise the energy savings and reduced maintenance properties of LED lighting. Properly directed and controlled LED lighting also provides less 'light trespass' than the Council's current sodium lanterns. Whilst this has raised some concerns with a small number of residents in certain areas where LED lighting has already been installed, it is a desired effect; as it avoids energy being wasted lighting areas for which the Council has no responsibility, such as private gardens and the front doors of residential properties etc. The lighting patterns provided by LED lighting are quite different to that of sodium lighting, effectively creating a change in the 'lighting atmosphere' and this has also caused some concern with a small number of residents.
38. Concerns have also been raised by some commentators about the possible crime and disorder effects of the general reduction in background lighting levels with LED lighting and even the potential for negative health effects.
39. Trafford Council sought to assess potential LED lighting health concerns raised by residents in their area by commissioning a report from the Institute of Occupational Medicine. The final report published in June 2013 concluded, "The proposed LED Street Lighting Programme has overall no (neutral) or a minor positive health and well-being impact for the residents, workers and visitors of Trafford compared to the existing type of street lighting used." Links to this information are detailed in the background papers section to this report. Complaints across UK Councils have generally been connected to increased lighting levels associated with LED installations and their potential for affecting sleep patterns. Though despite a considerable weight of academic work relating to the potential harmful effects of artificial light sources, including LED street lighting, there is no empirical evidence that points to health risks from the types of LED installations that we have installed to date, greater than that of the conventional lights they replace. All lanterns and LED modules meet current British and European lighting safety standards and this will remain the case as the installations continue.
40. The vast majority of LED street lighting installations across the Vale have passed without incident or complaint, though the introduction of LED street lights in an area of Llandough did result in concerns being raised by a small number of residents, mostly about the 'lower levels' of light offered in comparison to the previous units. Their concerns were picked up by a member of the public from the Manchester area who had previously campaigned in Trafford to stop their LED lighting installations.
41. Linked to this, Members will be aware of certain press coverage and e mails alleging dangerous health effects of LED lights, which were claimed to be too bright, hampering the natural sleep patterns of humans, animals and other biological life forms. The campaign in Trafford generally related to health concerns about the lights being too bright, though this was the direct opposite of the concerns raised by Llandough residents which alleged that the LED lights installed in their area were too dim. It should be noted that, despite the press coverage and a blanket e mail to our elected members raising serious concerns (albeit from a non-resident of the Vale), no formal complaints concerning LED lighting installations have been received. Cabinet are reminded that over 20% of the Council's current light stock is LED (28% by the end of this financial year).
42. Since these initial concerns in Llandough the LED lighting output has been increased in the area from 16W to 21W and, whilst some latent concerns still remain with a small number of residents, these seem to be mostly related to the change in lighting patterns and back lighting (lighting atmosphere) when comparing the new lights with the old. The local Ward member for Llandough has been very active in seeking to resolve these issues and has even conducted a door to door survey of those who live in the LED lit areas to seek their views, where no significant concerns were raised by those who were spoken to.
Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)
43. The preferred option (Option 6) requires up front funding of circa £350k and it is suggested that this be provided from Visible Services reserve. The work to install the part night sensors will be externally tendered and the duration of the work is at least 3 months. It is possible that this work could be completed by the end of this current financial year, if authority to proceed is provided by the end of November 2014.
44. Financial savings of circa £370k will be realised per annum should this option be chosen and this will be used to offset part of the budget challenge facing the Directorate.
45. Greater savings and geared income opportunities may be available by engaging with a private sector partner or another local authority in the long term and if this is found to be the case, it will be the subject of a further report to Cabinet.
Sustainability and Climate Change Implications
46. The proposed option reduces the Council's CO² emissions by 1,338 tonnes per annum and this represents a major contribution towards the Council's greenhouse gas reduction targets.
Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)
47. The Council has a legal duty to protect users of the public highway and its liabilities in respect to this will have to be assessed and carefully managed to avoid any additional third party risks resulting from the lighting changes.
Crime and Disorder Implications
48. Part-night lighting schemes are not a new initiative. They have been in operation in certain Local Authorities in England for some time. So far the evidence from these schemes, suggest no increases in crime and disorder as a result of the lighting change. However, the size of the samples for such assessments and the timeframes used are generally insufficient to provide unequivocal evidence of the effects of the change. There will also be a 'local' element to any such changes and this will have to be carefully monitored and assessed in the vale if the proposal is accepted.
49. The effects of reduced lighting on road traffic collisions' is also a debateable point. Certain newspaper headlines over recent years have suggested a correlation between reduced street lighting and an increase in the number of road deaths and serious injuries. However, the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) in partnership with the Institute of Lighting Professionals (ILP) believe that a detailed and wide ranging investigation is required to accurately establish the facts in this case and have therefore set up 'The Lanterns Project', which aims to collect before and after traffic collision data for a large number of Councils that have gone down the part lighting or light dimming route. The outcome of this piece of work is due to be published in December 2014, and this will be referenced in the final street lighting strategy, which is to be put before Cabinet at a later date.
Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)
50. An assessment will be required as to whether the strategy proposed detrimentally affects any members of the public with protected characteristics, though due to the timing of the part night arrangements proposed it is not considered at this stage that this will be a major issue.
51. Environment - Current and future generations of Vale residents and visitors enjoy the built and natural environments of the Vale of Glamorgan and actively protect and maintain them. E3 Review and update the Council's Carbon management plan to reduce emissions from Council buildings, street lighting and council vehicles. (2015/16)
Policy Framework and Budget
52. This is a matter for Executive decision by Cabinet.
Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)
53. As this is a Council wide matter no individual ward member consultation has been undertaken.
Relevant Scrutiny Committee
54. Economy and Environment.
Liverpool to introduce energy efficient street lighting - BBC News 14th June 2014 - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-merseyside-27847565
Trafford Council - Investment in Street Lighting - Report to the Executive 18th November 2013 -
Trafford LED Street Lighting Programme Health Impact Assessment (Full Report) https://democratic.trafford.gov.uk/documents/s3192/Trafford%20LED%20street%20lighting%20programme%20HIA%20-%20FINAL%20-%202013-06-10.pdf
Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution (2007) 'The Urban Environment' www.rcep.org.uk
Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution (2009) 'Artificial Light in the Environment' www.rcep.org.uk
Miles Punter - Director of Visible Services and Housing - Tel: 02920 673 101
Committee Reports - Legal
Visible Services - Accountant
Hayley Selway - Community Safety
Dave Powell - Energy Manager
Huw Isaac - Head of Performance and Development
Miles Punter - Director of Visible Services and Housing