South Kesteven to award £1 million contract for LED streetlight conversion

South Kesteven District Council will spend £1 million to convert over 3,000 streetlights to energy-saving LEDs over the next 18 months in a bid to cut costs and emissions.
South Kesteven District Council offices on St Peter's Hill, Grantham. Photo: LDRSSouth Kesteven District Council offices on St Peter's Hill, Grantham. Photo: LDRS
South Kesteven District Council offices on St Peter's Hill, Grantham. Photo: LDRS

E.ON Energy Solutions will be awarded the contract, estimated to be worth around £1 million, pending approval from South Kesteven District Council’s Cabinet on Tuesday, February 6.

According to the report for the meeting, this will be funded by a £500,000 allocation from the Invest to Save Reserve, £250,000 from the Local Priorities Reserve and £250,000 from the Budget Stabilisation Reserve.

South Kesteven District Council is responsible for the management of a total of 3,893 streetlights within the district, funded by its general fund. This also includes 303 lamps located adjacent to the council’s housing stock.

These lights are predominantly for the lighting of footways, and not to be confused with the separate lights for highways, mostly managed by Lincolnshire County Council.

South Kesteven District Council has been making big strides towards converting these lights to LEDs. In August 2021 just 152 of the 3,893 lights were fitted with LED lighting, and as of December 2023 that figure leapt to 713.

Current costs for streetlighting services in South Kesteven have been budgeted at £633,000 for 2023/24, and the council predicts that converting to LED lighting would reduce over 61 per cent of that total.

The majority of lights operated by the council are 35 or 36W low pressure sodium lamps, accounting for just over four per cent of the entire council’s carbon emissions.

Converting a traditional low sodium lamp to an LED luminaire will deliver an energy and utility cost saving of at least 65 per cent, according to the council’s report on the matter.

The contract to E.ON Energy Solutions Limited comes with an expectation that the “whole stock of existing streetlights” are upgraded to LED within a maximum period of 18 months, covered by a 10 year warranty that “should vastly reduce the maintenance costs.”

This comes with an anticipated payback period of just over four years.

The issue of streetlighting spreads far beyond South Kesteven in recent times, though.

Lincoln’s MP Karl McCartney launched a campaign calling on Lincolnshire County Council to keep every second streetlight on overnight in a bid to improve safety on the streets of the city.

However, Lincolnshire County Council said this was not strictly their responsibility, instead pointing to provisions made for parish, district town and city councils to pay for street light conversion at their own discretion.

The county council argued that since this process was introduced, just four of its 68,900 street lights were converted.

Despite this, City of Lincoln Council maintained that the issue was in fact a highways issue.

There was also an LED-themed streetlight argument between Boston Borough Council and Old Leake Parish Council this year, where CounTom Ashton, vice chairman of the parish council, was accused of “playing politics” over the issue.

The parish council pays for maintenance and running costs of the streetlights in the area and has done since 2016, when it took on the costs from Boston Borough Council. This is estimated to have cost Old Leake Parish Council £25,000 ever since.

Coun Ashton called on the borough council’s help to pay for LED conversion, which he says could cut costs by up to 77 per cent in the long term, but Leader of Boston Borough Council Anne Dorrian said it was “the Conservative administration” Coun Ashton was a part of which made the decision in 2016.

Coun Dorrian asked: “Frieston Parish Council has converted 50 out of 56 streetlights to LED; so I have to ask, if they were able to achieve such a good outcome, why couldn’t Old Leake Parish Council? What has happened to all the money they’ve collected from their residents?”