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Cumbria County Council: LED streetlights

Since 2014, Cumbria County Council has invested £12.9 million in its LED Street Lighting replacement and improvement programme, replacing over 45,000 streetlights with more efficient and cost-effective LED technology.

 As a result, the programme has enabled the council to reduce the consumption of energy through the network by approximately 60 per cent each year, reduce its annual lighting energy bill by over £1 million, and save more than 9,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.

The challenge

Cumbria has some of the darkest skies in the UK – making it one of the few places in the country where the awe-inspiring Milky Way is still visible. Dark skies not only reveal the phenomenal wonder of the stars but they are also critical for the health of nocturnal wildlife. Sadly, light pollution in Cumbria is growing year on year. Traditional streetlights are one of the causes of increasing light pollution, along with consuming energy which also contributes to our carbon footprint.

The solution

Replacing over 45,000 streetlights with LED technology. This includes LED lanterns, known as luminaires, that are manufactured by Thorn Lighting and emit a blend of white and amber light focused at ground level, preventing light pollution up into the night sky with no visibility of the LED and reducing any potential for glare.

The impact

LED streetlights are more efficient, cost-effective, lower our carbon emissions and can be directed to reduce light pollution. Not only do unnecessarily bright lights threaten to obscure our beautiful night skyscapes, they also blind and confuse nocturnal animals so that they cannot feed or find a mate.

How is the new approach being sustained?

Switching to LED lights is costing the council £12.9m over five years but will see a reduction in energy usage of 60 per cent per year saving annually over £1m and saving 9,000 tonnes of CO2 per year. Lessons learned

The co-benefits of these simple solutions are vast, not only prevent any light pollution up into the night sky, but their ‘warmer’ colour temperature means they minimise any potential harmful effects on wildlife, and light sensitive people, so they can help to restore nature, reduce our emissions whilst keeping our streets safe.


Hannah Girvan at [email protected]

Links to relevant documents

Cumbria ‘LED-ing’ the way with street light replacement programme