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All-night street lighting with LEDs

A £40 million investment in LED technology is set to pave the way for a return to all-night street lighting across the Canterbury district and Faversham. Kent County Council has pledged to convert the county’s 120,000 street lights to LED, bringing to an end a controversial cost-cutting trial. It means all-night street lighting will return to residential roads, but it may he “dimmed a little” after peak hours, according to the council.

The system will be controlled remotely, enabling the authority to dim lights where needed and detect and repair faults quickly. Since 2013 streets across the district have been plunged into darkness after the authority decided to turn off certain lights overnight in a bid to save money. The move was met with widespread criticism, both from householders and police, who last year said they “could not support” the move.

But now campaigners have won the day, with the conversion to LED set to be the largest in the country. David Brazier, cabinet member for environment and transport, said:

“LED lighting had been prohibitively expensive, but has recently fallen significantly in cost, with manufacturers now guaranteeing their products for up to 20 years. The average increase for energy prices this year has been around 11%. These increases will be further exacerbated by a carbon tax our costs.

LED lights are significantly more efficient than traditional lights. Converting our stock of street lights will therefore reduce energy consumption, reduce carbon emissions and reduce our maintenance bill. In addition to saving council taxpayer money, it would also mean a better service for residents and businesses.”

The council hopes the move to LED could start by the end of this year and will take three years to roll out across the county, with residential areas converted first. The council is paying for the move with an interest-free loan of £22m, secured with help from the Department of Energy and Climate Change. Officers are currently trying to find a way to pay the rest of the bill, possibly using a grant from the European Union. Council bosses have already held meetings with installers and manufacturers.

We’d like the lights back on now!

Tricia Wilkinson talking with Cllr Brian MacDowall about the street lights
Tricia Wilkinson talking with Cllr Brian MacDowall about the street lights

Campaigners who claimed the street light switch-off had encouraged a spate of break-ins were this week sceptical about the move to LED technology. Neighbourhood Watch volunteer Tricia Wilkinson, from Bishopstone, says residents are concerned it will be some time before rural areas see the benefit of the conversion. She told the Gazette:

“Here in Bishopstone we are quite rural and we are probably at the end of the line to get the new LED lights. The bigger areas will go first before our area. People are still petrified about the break-Ins. It would put people’s minds at rest if they were to put them back on now. We’re worried it might take them a long time to get around to doing the job. People have been put off from going out at night because you can’t see where you’re walking or who else is outside. We’ve gone back to the dark ages, which shouldn’t really be happening in this day and age. It’s a burglar’s delight.”


LED stands for light emitting diode, a technology first developed commercially in the 1970s. They are more efficient than conventional bulbs, allowing
brighter light for less energy consumption. A five watt LED typically emits 18 to 22 lumens per watt, a conventional 60 to 100 watt incandescent bulb
about 15 lumens per watt, and standard fluorescent lights up to 100.

Herne Bay Gazette, February 5th 2015

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