What can Local Authorities do?

County Councils can check their properties and make sure they are properly lit. Some offices may be lit from the base with strong lights shining upwards. Ideally these should be removed, or at least they should be replaced with dimmer lights and should be turned off at an appropriate Hour.

All lights under the control of a local authority, including streetlights, should be examined to see whether they can be turned off or their intensity reduced after a certain hour. Councils are also responsible for street lighting. This is one of the worst forms of light pollution with on average 30% of light being wasted with common streetlights. However, it is something that can be addressed with better lighting.

The old 'orange' streetlights should be replaced by 'full cut off' (FCO) lights whereby no light can spill above the horizon and all the light is directed onto the roads and footpaths where it is needed

City of Calgary

The best example of where this has been done was in the city of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. It was the aim in 2007 that the city would have replaced over 40,000 streetlights from 200 and 250 watt drop dish fixtures to 100 and 150 watt flat lens fixtures.

The old lights sent some light horizontally and some upwards into the sky but the new full cut off lights redirect all light towards the ground, allowing the city to maintain acceptable illumination levels despite the reduced bulb wattage. This project cost $7.8 million Canadian, but was implemented to save money.

Using the new lights the city hoped to benefit from a saving of over $2 million per year on electricity bills; possibly substantially more with rising fuel prices. This project is also good for the environment, with 18,000 tonnes less carbon dioxide emission.

The project paid for itself. Calgary was the first City in North America to install new flat lens streetlight fixtures. The City retrofitted over 37,000 street lights, which saves over $1.7 million a year due to reduced energy consumption. Electricity saved from the project is enough to power 3,000 homes every year.

Between the years 2002 and 2010 since the implementation of the retrofit in the city of Calgary, the following savings and reductions have occurred:

•            107,000 MWh of energy saved.

•            124,000 tonnes of reductions in carbon dioxide.

•            $11 million was saved due to energy consumption reductions.

Taking it a step further in 2011, tests on the feasibility of energy consumption reductions in street-lighting in non-residential areas were implemented by introducing 310 watts lights instead of the present 400 watt lights as part of pilot projects.

Local Authorities in Ireland may not be in a position to embark on such a move. They should however replace any faulty streetlights with FCO designs as Calgary did. It is suggested that FCO lights are installed in any new developments.

With regard to planning, Local Authorities should state in their development plans and planning regulations that non-polluting fixtures must be used. Details of any external lighting schemes intended as part of any new development should be submitted as part of the planning application and that those schemes be demonstrated to be the minimum needed.

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