Residents across the Harrogate District might notice a difference in the lamps that light up their streets, after a plan to replace North Yorkshire's streetlights has been given the go-ahead.
Executive Members of North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) have approved plans to replace traditional ‘yellow glow’ sodium streetlights with new LED technology, county-wide.
The decision was made after Members considered a report on a business case for replacing all 50,400 streetlights maintained by NYCC, which cost £2.1 million to power, and £1.2 million to maintain, annually.
In recent years, Harrogate’s street lighting has been a sensitive subject after the town Civic Society attempted to protect all remaining Victorian style lamps throughout the town.
The majority were still removed on health and safety grounds by NYCC but Henry Pankhurst, President of Harrogate Civic Society said it was ‘the past’ and said he would agree with any move to save taxpayers’ money.
He said: “We have expressed disappointment at the loss of the short columns that dated back to 1848 but obviously that is the past now.
“We secured 50 columns to be donated to the society, the majority of those have been bought by three of Harrogate’s major hotels for private use but are not yet up and running.
“I totally agree that the Highways should do what they can in that respect to save taxpayer’s money, that’s a definite - and LED technology is much cheaper to run.”
But Mr Pankhurst said it was likely there would be differing opinions over the change in colour and brightness of the lights, with the majority preferring the ‘soft yellow glow’ of the old lights, ‘rather than the bright white’ of new LED technology.
However, County Councillor Don Mackenzie, Executive Member for Highways, said there were already nearly a thousand of the new LED lights in Harrogate, and that so far they have proved quite popular.
He said: “We have avoided the use of that very harsh white lighting, we are using a much softer white and when we made those changes two years ago, when we took the last Victorian ones away, it was discovered that many people thought the columns we put in were very attractive and they also said that they liked the lighting very much.
The new lights can already be seen around The Stray and along Leeds Road, but between now and March next year, another 5,000 - 7,000 are set to be replaced across the country.
The project to replace all the streetlights maintained by NYCC spans three years, but funding for the remaining two and a half years will be sought from the County Council budget report in 2018.
According to NYCC the new, more efficient LED equipment will cost about 40 per cent less to power averaging an annual saving of £1.285 million on completion of the project.
Councillor Mackenzie said that the council would see a 10 per cent return on their investment annually by changing the lights and that they would reduce NYCC’s carbon footprint by 3.3k tonnes.