Fact and fiction about LED street lights

1)     Why is the Cardiff using LED lights for street lights?

There are significant benefits to using LED Lights. They are very efficient at converting energy to light. So you get the same quality of light for a fraction of the cost. There is also a significant reduction in carbon emissions from LED lights. In Cardiff this is estimated to be as much as 45%. The cost saving for 2016/17 will be £800,000 a year in energy costs. Over a 20 year period, which is the lifespan of the LED system, this is a saving on £16m.

2)     Where have the LED lights been installed?

13,600 lanterns have been replaced on main transport routes in the city (Principle Routes). We are currently piloting LED lights in Radyr.

3)     Apart from the financial saving, what are the other benefits to this scheme?

The new lights have a better visual presence on our streets, revealing obstacles for pedestrians and cyclists more clearly, reducing street crime and develop safer routes to our schools.

In terms of the reduction of crime, eight different studies have taken place and have found that improved street lighting - either through more lights or brighter lights - reduce crime by an average of 7%. With improved visibility, potential offenders are more exposed and less likely to commit crimes.

4)     In England there have been a number of complaints that the new LED lights are too bright and cause glare to drivers. What will be different in Cardiff?

We are using a different specification, so a warmer white light and not a blue-rich light. This is measured in what is called Kelvins (K). The specification of LED lights can range from 2200K to 5500K. Although the brighter LED light (Blue-rich light) are more efficient, Cardiff is committed to striking the correct balance between residents wants and needs and the saving in cost and carbon emissions. Given this we have chosen LED lights that are 3000K.

In terms of the claims on glare for drivers, one of the main factors involves the correct installation of the lanterns to the lighting column so they have to be mounted correctly. The warm white light that we will be using in Cardiff will reduce glare and are well within the current British standard - (BS EN 13201-2:2003)

5)     Has there been consultation and tests of different types of LED lights in Cardiff?

Yes - extensive consultation with interested parties and campaigners took place in November 2015. The Council carried out a number of tests in the area behind City Hall by testing eight different lantern types from manufacturers, at no cost to the council, at an identical classification of 3000 Kelvins. The most suitable and cost effective LED product was then chosen for Cardiff's street lights.

6)     Concerns from health campaigners, especially Simon Nicholas, claim that LED lights can have an impact on human sleeping patterns. Is this true?

The most efficient blue-rich light (above 4500 Kelvin) can affect sleep patterns but Cardiff isn't using this specification. The Council is using a warm white light (3000 kelvins) and this specification has been endorsed by a number of stakeholders including Simon Nicholas, the International Dark-Sky Association and Cardiff's Astrological Society.

7)     Environmentalists claim that the brighter white light can have an impact on birds and other wildlife. Is this true?

Any light during the night has an impact on birds and other wildlife and this is more of an issue in cities, due the amount of light used. As stated above, Cardiff is using a warm white light (3000 Kelvins) which is significantly less of an issue than Blue-rich light (5000 Kelvins and above)

8)     Will the lights be dimmed during the night?

The new LED lights can be remotely controlled by a computer. The lights which have already been installed in Cardiff are dimmed between 12 midnight and 6 am. We intend to dim the new LED lights that are going to be installed on the highway network in the same way. The Central Monitoring System allows us to raise and lower the brightness of the light if required.

9)     Will the maintenance of the street lights be easier to manage with the new LED light system?

Yes - the proposed new LED lights are far more advanced and will allow us to have far more control over street lighting. If, say an accident occurred, we could turn up the lighting to help the emergency services. The lights can also self-report any faults or issues they are having to a central computer. This will enable the Council to be far more efficient at fixing faults.

10)Are there plans to roll out LED lighting to other residential areas?

The pilot in Radyr which involves 1,250 LED lights should be installed by March 2018 and the pilot scheme will then be reviewed over a six month period. This review period will involve consultation with the community and specialists in this field so that any questions or concerns can be addressed. The Council intends to develop a business case for the roll out of LED lighting to all residential areas which would involve a further 22,750 lanterns. The decision on the roll out to residential areas would be made by Cabinet after the business case is completed.