SHETLAND Islands Council is set to invest nearly £3 million in upgrading the isles’ streetlights to energy-saving LED after councillors gave the project the go-ahead.
The upgrade would be implemented over the next three years and will bring estimated savings of £3.7 million in reduced energy costs over the project’s 20-year lifespan.
The project, which will also replace failed lighting columns with LEDs, will see the street lighting network dimmed between midnight and 6am to further save energy.
A business case was presented to the latest meeting of the Full Council on Wednesday and councillors gave the idea the green light.
The current conventional lanterns use “at least 100 per cent more energy” than their LED counterparts, while they are less reliable and need to be replaced every three to five years.
The council said it has a total of 3,989 streetlights in its roads inventory and a recent inspection showed that around one third of them are in the “worst condition category” – while a “significant number” of these have had to be cut down for safety reasons.
North Mainland councillor Alastair Cooper said he had concern about the streetlights being dimmed overnight in certain areas of Shetland.
While the isles are generally safe, “there are minor pockets of criminal activity in some of our schemes”, he said.
Council chief executive Maggie Sandison said that any concerns could be raised with the multi-agency antisocial behaviour working group.
The general provision of streetlighting was also raised, with councillor Stephen Leask noting that in his community in Nesting there were eight streetlights in a scheme of 25 houses which are like “floodlights” at certain times of the day.
“Consultation is vital to this,” he said, adding that there is a “significant need for less lights” in some areas.
Lerwick North councillor John Fraser added that he had heard of overprovision of streetlighting in areas like Aith too and echoed Leask’s call for a “community-specific consultation”.
Central ward member Davie Sandison admitted there were a “wide range of views” on lighting issues in Shetland, but he said the LED project was “long overdue”.
In October 2012 the council agreed a policy of managed reduction, which involves retaining streetlights “at locations where it is most needed” – while many have been removed over safety fears.
The funding for the LED project will see £1.1m come from the council’s spend to save scheme reserve and £1.7m from the general capital grant from the Scottish Government.
The total expenditure this financial year will be nearly £1.28 million, with this figure due to rise in 2019/20 to £1.36 million. The outlay in 2020/21 would be £1.12 million.
In addition to 20-year lifespan savings from reduced energy costs, there is an estimated combined saving of around £1.2 million in maintenance and carbon reduction commitment costs.