STREET lights in Tameside are set to come on later, turn off earlier and be dimmed during the early hours as the borough’s council looks to save money and reduce its carbon footprint.
The authority’s executive cabinet will vote on a proposal that will affect major roads in the area, meaning they will spend about £74,000 a year less.
A ‘dimming and trimming’ technique is favoured, meaning lights will come on and off when it is darker and between midnight and 6am, will be turned down to 75 per cent of their output.
£284,000 will be spent to upgrade and improve the columns currently there but council documents say they will make that back in just under four years.
Other options available to the cabinet include reducing the output and the operation times permanently and completely turning them off during early hours.
It also cannot be rolled out to all lampposts as those on side streets are already set to run on their minimum.
And a report spells out the reasons behind the plan, stating: “Energy costs have significantly increased in the past 18 months due to a volatile electricity supply market.
“It is imperative that the council reduces its electricity consumption in order to reduce costs. The impact of trimming and dimming will reduce the amount of energy used to light the highway.
“In financial year 21/22 the council spent £1,113,000 to provide energy to our general street lighting network.
“The unprecedented energy cost rise has caused significant pressure to the council’s energy budget, in 22/23 the energy cost rose to £1,592,000, An increase of £480,000 compared to the previous year, this equates to a 30.15 per cent increase.
“Further increases in the electricity tariff are expected in the 2023/24 financial year. This will increase the energy by another 29.02 per cent to £2.243,000 (estimated).
“Had we not reduced our energy consumption considerably from 15/16, this figure would have been £5,330,000 this financial year.”
Reasons for not turning lights off completely can be summed up in one word – insurers.
And in other areas, attempts to do that have proved unsuccessful as the report adds: “Tameside Council’s appointed insurance broker has advised that Greater Manchester authorities in the past have approached Insurers about turning off street lights and Insurers have not supported the decision.
“Whilst there are examples of local authorities who have tried switching off street lights, roll out has been limited.
“In Derbyshire County Council, a largely rural council, switching off technology has been fitted on approximately 6,500 columns out of a total of more than 89,000 (seven per cent of all columns) and no new switch offs have been identified since 2012.
“In Leeds City Council, a small trial was undertaken in a residential area, but feedback from residents and risk assessments concluded that no further roll outs would take place.
“Wigan and Bury have fitted switch off controls to a small number of columns in car parks and areas of anti-social behaviour but there has been no large scale roll out.
“The risks in switching off street lighting include, but are not limited to, increased pedestrian slip/trip personal injury claims, potential severity of claims due to a lack of lighting, crime rates could increase, accessibility issues for elderly or disabled residents.”
Tameside Council’s cabinet will vote on the proposal at its meeting on Wednesday, October 25. If it agrees, work to improve columns will take place over the following year.
The report continues: “Each street light will need a new component to dim the level of lighting and also to change the time that the light comes on and goes off.
“The investment required is £284,000 for the main road street lights with the payback period for this being 3.9 years.
“But following the payback period, the council will still generate £74,000 saving year on year (at the current tariff).
“It is important that the council reduces energy costs as they are currently in a volatile market with unprecedented high cost and to reduce the carbon footprint of the council.”