Frequently asked questions

Answers to FAQs about the street lighting LED upgrade programme and the introduction of a central monitoring system (CMS).

Why is West Sussex County Council doing this?

Increasing pressure on the WSCC maintenance budget coupled with the ongoing increases in energy costs has led to the requirement to develop strategies to ensure that street lighting can be maintained.

Introducing LED technology will reduce energy consumption and ongoing maintenance, so enabling WSCC to offset the predicted cost increases.

What is WSCC changing?

The programme will change 65,249 street light lanterns (the bit on the top of the column) to a unit that contains an LED light and a Central Monitoring System (CMS).

There will be no change to the location of the street lights.

Conventional lantern
Conventional lantern
LED lantern
LED lantern

Does this mean all the street lights in West Sussex will be changed?

The programme will change the majority of WSCC street lights, the exception will be lights that are already LED.

Street lights that are not owned by WSCC, including parish and district lighting, developer lighting, privately owned lights will not be changed.

What will happen to all the old lanterns?

The old lanterns will be reused or recycled.

How will this project impact on the climate?

The project has been developed to support WSCC's climate pledge to reduce carbon emissions. It is estimated that once the four-year conversion programme has been completed there will be a reduction in carbon emissions of 2,864 tonnes per year.

At the time when the project was approved this equated to a 17 per cent decrease in WSCC's overall emissions.

How much will the project cost?

The overall cost is estimated to be £25.6 million.

How will the project be funded?

The project has been approved on a ‘spend to save’ basis.

WSCC will be borrowing the money. This capital investment will be paid back through the energy and maintenance savings that the project will deliver within 13 years.

How are the savings calculated?

There are two elements to the savings:

  1. Energy saving – There are many parameters which affect the amount of saving each street light will achieve. These include the required light output, location, site specific lighting specification and how the street is lit (part night or all night). WSCC estimates an energy saving of £55 million over 25 years, which equates to a 60 per cent energy cost saving.
  2. Maintenance saving – The existing lanterns require a lamp change every four years. This will not be required with LEDs, so WSCC have estimated a £8 million saving over 25 years.

What will happen to the extra savings once the project funding has been repaid?

The programme is required to assist with offsetting the predicted reduction in maintenance funding and the increase in energy costs for highways maintenance.

This means that the savings will enable WSCC to continue to deliver a street lighting service.

Will these savings be reflected in my council tax?

No. Street lighting is only a small element of the council tax and without this type of initiative we would have to look at what facilities could be reduced.

Why are the streetlights WSCC only recently changed already LED?

In 2010 WSCC entered a 25-year private finance initiative (PFI), which allowed us to replace our life-expired lighting columns.

At the time, LED technology was not affordable and, more importantly, reliability was unproven. WSCC and other authorities entering a PFI at this time chose to go with more reliable lanterns that still delivered energy savings of around 25 per cent over the previous equipment.

Does this mean the previous replacement work was wasted money?

No. The replacement programme which started in 2010 required the life-expired columns to be replaced and, where required, re-located to meet the design standards.

The current LED conversion programme has been designed to utilise the current light columns and limits the change to only the lanterns. 

Will you be digging up the road again?

No. All that will change in this project is the lantern on the top of the column to LED technology. The columns themselves will remain in their current locations.

Will the conversion require road closures or diversions?

No. The change to each light is relatively quick and will be conducted in the same way the current lamp changes are carried out. There will be a need for some lane closures on major roads, but these will only be for a short period of time.

How long will the new LED lamps last?

LED technology has greatly improved in recent years, with a life span of approximately 100,000 burn hours compared to the current four years. This will equate to 15 to 20 years' life expectancy depending how the road is lit.

How do you know that LED is reliable now?

As part of a trial, the South Downs National Park area was fitted with LED lighting during 2013/14 along with a centralised management system (CMS). This was very successful in proving the technology, with very low failure rates in comparison to non-LED lanterns. Also, minimal customer complaints have been received.

What is the CMS the project mentions and how will it help?

The introduction of a Central Monitoring System (CMS) will enable WSCC to remotely monitor the electrical status of the street lights and accurately determine the energy usage. This will:

  • remove the requirement to check or alter the light output (such as from all night to part-night lighting) by visiting the areas
  • ensure that the council only pays for the energy used
  • introduce a private communication network that could be used to assist with the implementation of smart city technology.

What do you mean by part or all-night lighting?

Part-night lighting is when the lights come on at dusk and go off at around midnight (GMT). The light will then stay off for 5.5 hours before coming back on. WSCC has had part-night lighting on most residential roads and minor traffic routes since 1974. In our experience, the part-night policy is well supported by the residents of West Sussex, who see all night lighting in residential roads as both unnecessary and a waste of energy.

All-night lighting is when the lights switch on at dusk and stay on until dawn. This applies to the main roads and traffic routes in West Sussex.

Will the change alter the times that the part-night lights go off?

The current switching is not adjustable and has a fixed switch off time as the middle of the night, which is around 12 midnight.

Once the clocks change the switching point remains the same, but the clocks move, so the light switches off at 1am.

The introduction of the Central Monitoring System (CMS) will enable WSCC to fix the time, so the lights will turn off at the same time all year round.

Why are lights that used to be on all night switching off now?

During the conversion programme, WSCC is taking the opportunity to verify that street lights are replaced in line with the part-night lighting policy. This may cause some streets to change how they are lit.

Has WSCC addressed the potential effects LEDs have on the environment?

WSCC considered current reports and consulted with Public Health England before the project started. This resulted in the selection of neutral white LEDs as a compromise between emissions and the requirement to have affordable and correctly lit areas.

For further information please see following Key Decision Report:

WSCC also keeps abreast of the latest reports and considers any new recommendations. A typical example of this is the latest report on the impact of street lighting on the local insect populations. Our current policy is to implement part-night lighting, dim light levels and ensure that all sites are lit to the correct level. So, we meet the recommendation of below 5.7 Lux for rural areas and limit the impact that any lighting has on the insect population.

It is also worth reiterating that the implementation of the conversion programme will reduce carbon emissions by approximately 2,864 tonnes per year.

Is it true that LED lights are too bright according to reports?

All new lighting in West Sussex must be designed to ensure that it meets the relevant lighting standard. This also applies to the LED conversion programme.

This results in roads not being overlit and it ultimately makes best use of energy. The dimming of the lights will also be applied during the quieter parts of the night.

When will my road have LED lanterns fitted?

The project will be carried out over the county during the next four years.

Please see the delivery programme as a guide to areas and when they will be done.

Some roads in West Sussex already have LED lanterns installed. These will not be changed, but the dimming included in this programme will be applied at some point within the project.

Last updated:
21 June 2022
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