LED Streetlighting upgrade project

All existing 43,400 streetlights, maintained by Suffolk County Council, will be replaced with greener, LED streetlights during 2021 to 2022.

These LED lanterns use less energy and produce a more natural and focused light than the traditional orange glow of streetlights. The aim is for this upgrade project to be completed by the end of 2022 with our contractor, Bouygues E&S Infrastructure UK Limited. There will also be an opportunity for other streetlight owners within Suffolk such as Parish and District Councils to upgrade as part of this process.

In March 2019, Suffolk County Council declared a Climate Emergency and set out ambitions for becoming a carbon-neutral organisation by 2030. This streetlight upgrade supports Suffolk County Council’s ambitions, as a benefit for the environment, supporting a reduction in carbon emissions by saving energy, reducing light pollution as well as providing clearer images on CCTV, traffic cameras and dashcam footage for the benefit of public safety.

Download LED streetlighting upgrade programme (206KB).

Please note that the programme is subject to change due to a range of factors, including bad weather. The programme will be updated regularly. 

Press releases  

Read the frequently asked questions below. 

LED stands for Light Emitting Diodes. They are a compound semiconductor device that produces visible light when an electric current passes through.


There are many advantages, including:

  • Using significantly less electricity than existing lamps and should reduce the electrical energy cost for the local authority by at least 60%.
  • At least double the projected lifespan compared to traditional lights. The LEDs units being installed are warrantied for 12 years with an expected operating life of 25 years compared to up to 6 years for traditional lamps.
  • Carbon emissions are significantly reduced therefore they are more environmentally friendly and better for the local environment.
  • They contain no mercury, which is again more environmentally friendly.
  • They operate effectively in all environments (for example extremes of cold or hot ambient temperatures) meaning less likelihood of faults.
  • They produce a natural white light for the human eye, which is better for sight than the older yellow glow from lanterns (that is a historically accepted but unnatural light tone). A warm white colour temperature of 3000k is being installed which is better for flora and fauna than many LEDs previously installed on large scale projects.
  • They are more directional than traditional streetlights, reducing ‘sky glow’ and glare.
  • LEDs are instantaneous and function at full output when switched on. There is no warm-up time required (as with most older street lighting).
  • In conjunction with our central management system, the LED units can be dimmed during the period they are on and as road use decreases, further reducing energy and carbon.

Suffolk County Council, as with many other councils in the UK, supports central government initiatives for greener travel and carbon reduction. With a climate emergency declared, many local authorities, are upgrading their streetlighting to LED lanterns to support carbon reduction and cost savings in the longer term.

Suffolk County Council has received funding for upgrade works during the 2021/22 financial year, ensuring that all streetlights identified as part of this project are upgraded to LEDs by the end of 2022 working with contractors Bouygues. Following completion of the county council owned units, local councils within Suffolk that own lights will be offered to join the project and benefit from the economies of scale this project provides.

This work is an important part of the Council’s annual plan to reduce its energy and ongoing streetlighting maintenance costs for the 2022/23 financial year and beyond.

LEDs are more directional than other lights reducing ‘sky glow’ and glare away from the street they are designed to light.

Feedback from other local authorities suggests that LED lights can appear brighter or more powerful initially, but as with any change it takes a period of time to get used to new lighting. Other authorities that have already upgraded have advised to allow an eight-week period before reviewing any locations where any concerns are raised.

Conversely, the focusing technology of LEDs makes sure that more of the light’s output is usefully directed at the ground, reducing the amount that ‘spills’ out to the sides affecting neighbouring properties. It may appear in some circumstances that lighting seems insufficient, however this is because there is significantly reduced spilt light onto properties, gardens etc.

These have been highlighted to contractors Bouygues so locations are known and will be sensitively upgraded with like-for-like alternatives where possible. Acceptable options have been identified by the County Council and the local town or parish council will be advised ahead of the upgrade regarding proposals and options for decorative lanterns in their area. It should be noted that the cost of a decorative lantern is more than five times the cost of a functional lantern and often produces increased light spill.

Phase 1 is the mobilisation phase between May and July 2021. During this phase plans will be made for the upgrade works over the following nine months.

Phase 2 will take place between August 2021 and March 2022 to upgrade all streetlights in Suffolk. There are six sub-phases for the county:

  1. North-west Suffolk will be the first area to see its streetlights upgraded, starting in August 2021. This includes Mildenhall, north-west Bury St Edmunds and parishes to the north of Newmarket.
  2. South-west Suffolk is next, including Newmarket, south-west Bury St Edmunds, Haverhill and Sudbury.
  3. The south of Mid Suffolk is next, from Sudbury along the Essex border all of the way to Shotley. This area covers the A14 corridor, including Stowmarket and parishes south of it up to the south-east of Bury St Edmunds.
  4. The north area of Mid Suffolk is next, including the north-east side of Bury St Edmunds to the Norfolk border at the River Waveney.
  5. East Suffolk follows, including Bungay, Halesworth, Lowestoft as well as Ipswich.
  6. Lastly, the Suffolk coastal area will be upgraded, including Leiston, Woodbridge and Felixstowe.

It is hoped that most of the streetlights will be upgraded by April 2022, but all 43,000 Suffolk County Council maintained streetlights will be upgraded by the end of 2022 (as there is a six-month period built into the contract in case of any unforeseen problems).

The programme will be regularly reviewed and updated.

LEDs produce the same output as a traditional light source but with a lower wattage, i.e. an 11W LED can in some instances provide the same road lighting level as an existing higher wattage lamp of 70W and with reduced light spill.

Using LEDs uses less carbon than traditional lighting methods, dramatically reducing carbon costs and usage. The Project is aiming to reduce overall energy associated with the Project by 60% and will try to exceed this.

No, this should not be noisy work and will mostly take place during daylight hours for safety reasons. A mobile elevated platform will be required to replace the lanterns with basic signing and guarding in place in residential areas. On main roads, traffic management requirements will be assessed on a road-by-road basis and mainly through signage and cones, but some instances may require reduced speed limits past the area or temporary traffic management for short periods.

As LEDs produce a natural light, this enables the human eye to see colours more accurately. These are also more directional than other lights, reducing ‘sky glow’ and glare away from the street they are intending to light, as the light is concentrated on the highway and/or footway. This will provide illumination to the road in accordance with British and European standards where practicable. LED lighting also provides clearer images on CCTV, traffic cameras and dashcam footage for the benefit of public safety.

LEDs may initially appear to be slightly brighter than traditional light sources as they are a neutral light rather than an orange light. Their ability to better focus the light produced minimises glare through windows and glasses. The directional quality also reduces light into/onto properties, so houses with a streetlight outside may find less light intrusion into first floor windows. Conversely, the focusing technology of LEDs makes sure that more of the light’s output is usefully directed at the ground, reducing the amount that ‘spills’ out to the sides. This can make it appear darker outside lit areas.

Image for LED lighting 

LEDs are extremely long-lasting products and have an expected lifetime of up to 100,000 hours. This is approximately four times longer than a typical conventional street lighting lamp.

Suffolk County Council has been granted funding to upgrade our streetlights as a dedicated project this financial year, so the overall cost has been covered by specific funding separate to our annual county council streetlighting budget. Once LED lanterns are installed, over 60% of the energy cost associated with this project will be saved each year from 2022/23 onwards, plus the lanterns will last four times longer than the older technology lamps, therefore our ongoing maintenance costs for streetlighting should also be reduced for many years after the upgrade.

LED lighting delivers the same amount of light using approximately 30% to 40% of the power required by traditional light sources. They also power up instantaneously, not needing time to warm up like older lighting.

They are a different and more efficient way of generating light. Lamps create light with a gas filled filament. When power is applied, the filament glows and generates heat, which in turn produces light.

LEDs create light through a ‘cold process’ involving no wasted heat. When power is applied to semiconductors, they are stimulated by the movement of electrons, which creates photons. Photons are the light particles that are visible to the human eye.

Most of the upgrade projects carried out to date by other local authorities have used a colour temperature of 4000 kelvin. The county council are taking advantage of improved efficiencies with LED technology to use a warmer 3000 kelvin lantern which is better for flora and fauna. 

No. We will be reusing all columns unless they need to be replaced as part of our routine maintenance programme.

The council does not have a duty to provide lights. Once installed we must ensure they are maintained.

No. Not all Street lights are owned by Suffolk County Council, some are owned by Parish or District Councils. Also, there are certain circumstances where it may be decided that certain types of lights will not be upgraded as part of this works. Many lights have already been changed to LED either as part of a previous lantern replacement programme to replace some of the higher energy units or when units have been recently replaced.

Some lanterns will already be LED and as such will not require replacement and some lanterns may be being replaced as part of other works.

Yes, the new lights will be dimmed, this we will be carried out in accordance with the British Standards as road use decreases throughout the night. This will increase the energy saved and ensure roads are lit according to use.

Yes, the part night light policy will remain in place. Upon completion of the project, once savings and additional costs are known, there may be an opportunity to review.

The streetlights we are installing are designed to the latest British Standards and will ensure the right luminance (light) is on the road whilst minimising glare.

Expert reports show:

Public Health England’s report concluded that to damage your eyesight you would need to be less than 2 metres away with a steady fixation for 2.5 hours!

European Commission Report – SCHEER (Scientific Committee on Health, Environment and Emerging Risks) concluded that there is no evidence of direct adverse health effects from LEDs emission in normal use (lamps and displays) by the general healthy population.

The Lighting Research Centre -The paper concludes that LEDs present no special concerns for the blue-light hazard over some other common sources in typical use cases because photophobic responses limit exposure to bright sources.

All the above reports show that street lighting should not have an adverse effect on the circadian (daily sleeping and waking) rhythm, noting part night lighting applies in many residential areas where lights are switched off between 23:30 and 06:00. Incidentally, office and home lighting and the use of laptops and mobile phones are more likely to have an adverse effect.

The colour temperature for this project is 3000 kelvin which is a neutral/warm white light source.

Positions will be advertised locally. In addition, there is a Social Value plan as part of the works that includes volunteering days, tree planting and presentations to local school children. We are keen to work with local groups with an interest in their local environment, so please get in touch to find out more about whether we can assist.

The removed lanterns will be reused where appropriate or recycled through the Lumicom recycling scheme which is organised to ensure compliance of the WEEE directive for electrical component recycling.

For further information:

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