Upgrading Bristol’s Street Lighting to LEDs

Councillor Donald Alexander, smiling, with trees and College Green in the background.
Today’s guest blog is from Councillor Donald Alexander, Cabinet member for Transport and Labour Councillor for Avonmouth and Lawrence Weston.

We have embarked on a three-year programme of work to replace 29,000 of Bristol’s old street lights with LEDs that could save council taxpayers up to £2 million a year in energy and maintenance costs.

The move to LED street lighting supports our ambition to cut the city’s carbon emissions while offering best value to our residents.

LEDs (light emitting diodes) have lots of benefits because they:

  • use less energy so are cheaper to run
  • last for many years without needing to be replaced
  • produce fewer carbon emissions
  • direct light down reducing light pollution

We are replacing the lanterns of old street lights one area at a time and have started on home ground for me in Avonmouth and Lawrence Weston ward. This will see our electrical engineers using a lifting platform to install the new LED lanterns street-by-street.

As we only need to switch out the lanterns, and not lamppost columns, it will only take about 20 minutes to upgrade each street light, so disruption on local roads should be kept to a minimum.

You can help us by leaving space around the street light outside your home on the day your street is due to be upgraded. Look out for a letter from our contractor, Centregreat, in advance telling you when this will be and if you need to find alternative parking for the day.

Towards the end of April we’ll move onto our Park & Ride sites in Portway and Long Ashton. Then, in June, the plan is to continue the rollout in residential areas in the north of the city. 

Over the summer, we’ll focus on upgrading the street lights along main A and B roads across the city. There will need to be some traffic management in place for this, which could mean temporary traffic lights in some areas for short periods of time.

Heritage lanterns will be upgraded on an ad hoc basis and will be in a similar style and character to the existing equipment but with improved efficiency.

We will continue with the upgrade on residential streets, ward-by-ward across the whole of Bristol, from the autumn onwards.

We are also set to introduce a central management system that will allow us to control and monitor our LED street lighting remotely using smart city technology. This means we will be able to dim lights or  brighten up an area with the touch of a button, improving safety and helping us during any incidents.

Overall, we are investing almost £12 million into this city-wide project, which we now estimate will result in a saving of 20,000 tonnes of carbon within ten years of the upgrade (based on 2022 figures).

A street light is pictured fitted with the new LED lights.

It’s amazing that by switching over to LEDs it will make such a difference to our environmental impact and bring down our energy costs substantially, meaning it’s a win-win for the city.

To find out more about the street lighting project, visit www.bristol.gov.uk/ledupgrade.