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Essex Tories reject bid for low-energy lights

December 11, 2014 9:08 PM
Originally published by Epping Forest Liberal Democrats

Street Lights

Essex County Council yesterday rejected a bid to allocate funding for low-energy streetlights. At a meeting of the full council, the Liberal Democrat Group moved a motion calling on the council to allocate funds in next year's budget.

Moving the motion, Cllr Stephen Robinson (Chelmsford North) pointed out that the Liberal Democrats in the coalition Government have created the Green Investment Bank (GIB) to help the UK economy become greener and stronger.

Cllr Robinson said, "The GIB has £3.8 billion to support the roll-out of projects like low-energy LED streetlights. I am disappointed that the Conservative majority on the council would not agree to a plan for a roll-out of LED lights.

"Moving to LED lights would save Essex taxpayers more money than switching off most streetlights during the night.

"I am especially puzzled that they are willing to spend £1 million on a pilot of LED lights but will not set aside any money to take the pilot forwards if it is successful."

Seconding the motion, Cllr David Kendall (Brentwood South) pointed to figures from the Police in Brentwood, showing that crime has risen during the "lights off" period. Cllr Kendall also pointed out that the AA are now saying that lights should be left on in roads where the speed limit is 40mph or higher, because of the dangers to pedestrians.

Lib Dem councillors were also concerned that the £1 million for the pilot is being taken away from the budgets of the Local Highways Panels.

The full text of the motion read:

This Council notes that

(a) many councils, including nearby unitary authorities, are moving to LED street lights

(b) the Green Investment Bank (GIB) has £3.8 billion from the UK Government to help the UK's economy become greener and stronger, and sees energy efficiency measures including LED streetlighting at the heart of a low carbon economy

(c) the GIB says that Local Authorities deciding to make the switch to low energy streetlights will have a short payback period on their investment, as early as five years. After that, they will be able to enjoy a reduction in their electricity bill of up to 80 per cent.

This Council therefore resolves to include in the 2015-16 budget funding to begin switching Essex street lights to LED, either from own Invest to Save reserves or by taking a GIB loan. The 30% of lights that are left on all night and lights on street signs being considered first.