Wednesday, 14 April 2021 13:59

Darker skies and less carbon from Cumbria County Council's lighting replacements

Cumbria County Council's seven year £12.9m programme to replace over 45,000 street lights with more energy efficient and cost effective LED technology is nearing completion.

The programme has enabled the Council to reduce its annual lighting energy bill by over £1 million, reduce annual energy consumption by 60% and save more than 9,000 tonnes of carbon emissions each year.

Derwentwater in the Lake District - photo credit Pete Collins copy

As part of the LED replacement programme, the Council believes it will be the first local authority in the UK to use a newly-developed and adaptive LED street lantern which is Dark Sky friendly.

The new LED lanterns are manufactured by Thorn Lighting and use their NightTune LED technology. The lanterns emit a blend of white and amber light which can be automatically adjusted to suit the time of night and level of traffic on the road.

The NightTune luminaires not only prevent any light pollution up into the night sky, but their 'warmer' colour temperature means they minimise any potential harmful effects on wildlife, and light sensitive people.

Most modern LED road lights, which replaced the old energy inefficient, orange sodium lanterns, are set at 4,000 Kelvins or higher. The Cumbrian NightTune lights specification start at 2,700K at dusk, then reduce down to 2,200K during the quieter period in the middle of the night, and then return back to 2,700K before day break.

The lanterns, known as luminaires, deliver light focused at ground level, preventing light pollution up into the night sky with no visibility of the LED, reducing any potential for glare.

The County Council will be piloting these NightTune LED street lights at five locations in Alston, Warcop, Dent, Glenridding and Ambleside, where lighting was due to be upgraded and/or is situated in a sensitive location. Each site has been selected to cover a diversity of communities and landscape settings, in areas bidding for Dark Skies landscape status nationally – the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales national parks and North Pennines AONB.

This project is a collaboration between Cumbria County Council, the Dark Skies Cumbria project lead by the Friends of the Lake District, and the Council's LED supplier Thorn Lighting UK Ltd, a lighting brand of the Zumtobel Group.

Cllr Celia Tibble, Cumbria County Council Cabinet member for Environment, said: "We believe we are the first council in the country to pilot the use of NightTune LED technology. The pilots will allow us to monitor how the lighting impacts on the night-time environment and obtain feedback from each community."

Cumbria's Dark Skies Project is backing NightTune lighting. Project Officer Jack Ellerby from the Friends of the Lake District said: "I'm liaising across all the Dark Sky areas in the UK, with the International Dark Skies Association (IDA) and many different organisations and lighting/design professionals. Awareness and concerns over the harmful impacts of light pollution on our night skies, our wildlife, people's health and wellbeing and the wider implications on greenhouse gas emissions, is growing rapidly.

"Cumbria County Council's leadership in taking this initiative with Thorn Lighting, puts us at the forefront of finding win-win solutions to provide lighting in ways that do not harm the natural world. I know many areas across the UK are watching with interest in this excellent initiative."