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Council / Street lights to go back on

STREET lights are set to return to a handful of areas in Sandwick and Unst after a consultation with residents.

Lighting will return to Cameron Way, the Swinister Housing Estate and the Swinister cul-de-sac in Sandwick.

A photo of LED lights taken a few years ago in Lerwick's Bank Lane.A photo of LED lights which have been in place at Lerwick’s Bank Lane for a number of years.

In Unst, street lights will be reinstated at Gutter Street in Baltasound and East Road in Uyeasound.

Councillors gave the move their backing at a meeting of Shetland Islands Council’s (SIC) environment and transport committee on Monday morning.

The council implemented a street lighting reduction policy in 2012 but the LED upgrade of Shetland’s network approved in recent years allowed for lights to be reconsidered in certain areas if residents wanted them back on.

In these areas the SIC would work with community councils to consult with residents, although it was agreed that only the people originally consulted prior to the removal of lighting should be asked.

In Cameron Way in Sandwick eight residents were asked if they wanted their lights to return, with three responses – two for and one against.

In the Swinister Housing Estate six people were asked, with four in favour and one against.

At the Swinister cul-de-sac a further eight people were consulted, with five for the return of lights and two against.

At Gutter Street in Baltasound six people were consulted, with three in favour and one against, while at East Road four out of six people wanted to see the lights switched back on.

Consultations were also held with residents of Clingrapark in Yell, but only one resident was for the lights’ return, while at the Wethersta Industrial Estate opinion was split – meaning no lights will return to these two areas.

It is expected that the total capital cost for the replacement of the 26 streetlights will come to around £43,000. The replaced columns and lanterns will be new, with LED introduced.

If underground cables supplying the lighting need replaced then the cost could shoot up to £132,500, but this is not anticipated.

The estimated revenue costs of running the reinstated streetlights are around £1,453 a year.

A report presented to councillors referenced light pollution by saying: “The roads service has, for a number of years, been installing ‘flat glass’ lanterns when replacing existing lighting infrastructure.

“This more modern type of lantern is designed to reflect the light it emits downward so that glare and upward light is limited. Therefore, although this proposal would see an increase in lighting during the early hours of the morning, in some areas, the new lanterns should prevent light pollution.”

Not everyone is happy with the plans, however, with Sandwick resident Steven Jarmson threatening to take legal action over apparent light pollution if lights were return in the Swinister area.

The environmental impact of re-introducing streetlights was also raised at a time when the SIC had recently acknowledged a global climate emergency.

Other comments during the consultation included a desire from some to see half the number of lights originally installed returned to Swinister.

Roads manager Dave Coupe told councillors on Monday that a scheme could not be brought back on but with a lesser amount as that could give rise to some areas being left in the dark.

He added that the LED lighting is about 40 per cent more energy efficient than the old lamps.

The plan to reinstate lighting was praised by councillors, with Lerwick member Stephen Leask paying credit to staff.

North Isles’ Alec Priest said at East Road some elderly people had been left resultant to go outside in the dark because of the lack of lighting.

He also praised the fact that the lighting will only be reinstated in areas which had majority support from residents.

Committee chairman Ryan Thomson described the process as “democracy in action” before moving the recommendations.

The council’s LED street lighting upgrade project, meanwhile, is almost two years into a three year programme.

A total of 1,000 deteriorated columns have been replaced and 2,650 LED lanterns installed.

In the next financial year the SIC’s contractor will be required to replace 350 columns and 1,345 lanterns in order to complete the project.