Street lighting

Find out how to report faulty or obscured street lighting, information about part-night lighting in Suffolk and how to attach something to a street light.

Suffolk Highways are responsible for the maintenance and energy of over 70,000 street lights and nearly 9,500 illuminated signs and bollards across the county.

There are also over 10,500 street lights owned by other authorities, including borough, district, town or parish councils, Highways England (for trunk roads) and private owners.

Our reporting system will tell you whether or not we are responsible for maintenance.

You can report a faulty or obscured street light or lit sign or bollard quickly and easily online.

When will repairs be completed?

We aim to repair faulty street lights within 2 weeks.

Priority is given to dangerous faults such as exposed wires and are normally made safe within 2 hours.

If we find the cause of a faulty light is a problem with the electricity supply we will refer it to the electricity supplier. It will then become their responsibility to resolve the problem.


Sometimes we can't fix problems as quickly as we would like because of circumstances outside our control - examples include:

  • Lights mounted on wooden poles that are within 1 metre of the live overhead supply cables where it is unsafe for us to work (known as G39 faults).  To enable us to undertake repairs, we rely on the electricity Distribution Network Operator (DNO) or their approved contractor to first shroud the cables so we can safely undertake repairs.  The DNO for Suffolk is UK Power Networks.
  • Units located on remote footpaths with no vehicular access. We need to use a specialist access platform to safely reach the lights and as we only have a limited number of these, we batch repair work of this type to achieve maximum efficiency.  
  • Lights out on high speed roads and/or where specialist traffic management is required
  • Streetlight faults may be caused by an underground electrical supply fault and can only be repaired by UK Power Networks as they own and maintain the electricity cables supplying streetlights (as well as homes and businesses) with electricity. You can find faults of this nature on the UK Power Networks street faults map. Their aim to repair single unit failures within 25 days and multiple units within 20 days from the date when they became aware of the fault, but works to resolve faults with energy supply to homes and businesses usually take priority.

Part-night lighting is used to reduce our energy consumption, saving both money, carbon and CO² emissions.

Streetlights are controlled by sensors that detect when it is dark enough for lighting to be required and switch on the lights. This is earlier in winter months than in the summer.

Over 42,000 streetlights measuring 6 metres and below in height are ‘part-night lit’ and are switched off from 11:30pm to 6am.

They will then come back on after 6am if the sensors detect its dark enough for lighting to be required.

All other lighting taller than 6 meters, predominately on main routes are on all night. They also come on and off using the same light detecting sensors.

To deal with particular situations, the Police can request us to leave lights on instead of switching them off in a single or several streets for a period of time.

If you wish to attach items to a streetlight column, please visit Attachments to street lighting columns to find out how to apply. 

We don’t have enough money to replace all streetlights in a road so we focus on replacing those that have been identified as nearing the end of their useful life. Sometimes the street lights or signposts being replaced appear to be in a reasonable condition, but often it is the unseen section at or below ground level that has deteriorated.

We have a 3 year programme of replacement work, but any streetlight identified as requiring immediate removal will be dealt with as an emergency and made safe.

There may be occasions when a new street light has been erected next to an existing light. This is because either the electricity supply is waiting to be transferred from the old to the new column, or the existing cable cannot be re-used and a new service is required.

LED Lighting

LED lighting is being installed as part of the column replacement works. Many streetlights on main roads have previously been converted to LED to reduce our energy costs, but in areas where the part-night lighting has been introduced (mainly in residential areas), often the lighting units are not old and the cost to convert the streetlights to LED lighting would take over 10 years to recover the initial capital costs.

Replacing streetlights and lighting in Conservation Areas

Whilst we acknowledge the aesthetic appearance of some existing lighting columns is important to some residents, we need to ensure that our limited funding enables any lighting columns across the county that are structurally unsound can be replaced. Therefore, any replacement column in a Conservation Area will have a standard LED installed and the column will be painted black.

In some cases, there may be an opportunity for the local parish or district council to provide the additional funding to enable a heritage style installation.

Regulations regarding the illumination of bollards and signs has recently been amended and when a lit sign or bollard is damaged, we risk assess the location and wherever possible, take the opportunity to replace it with a reflective bollard as this will remove the electrical hazard from the centre island and reduce our electricity costs. 

Smart Light Concepts - Image

In 2011 we were one of the first authorities to adopt a county-wide central management system to monitor and meter our street lights using a sensor mounted on each street light.

These sensors detect when a light is not working and automatically reports faults as they occur. Using this system, we can carry out works more effectively and efficiently to ensure we keep as many lights operational as possible. 

Following installation of the system, and demonstration of the benefits it provides, we were successful in winning the 2013 Highway Magazine Excellence Award for Environmental Sustainability in the Highways Sector.

The central management system also provides the ability to dim or brighten our street lighting, depending on the amount of road users (known as adaptive lighting).  As this has never previously been done in the UK using multiple vendors, we introduced a pilot project to measure and count vehicle movements on a main traffic route in west Suffolk and automatically reduce or increase the lighting accordingly, with no noticeable difference in lighting levels.  

Following the success of this pilot, recognised through awards including UK IT Industry Best IoT Project of the Year and the ADEPT President’s Award for Digital Innovation 2018, we are working with European partners in a 2 Seas Cross-border Co-operation Programme to develop and test various methods, tools and concepts to demonstrate proven innovative techniques for energy savings, energy efficiency and renewable energy use in public lighting.

The Interreg 2 Seas Programme is a European Territorial Co-operation Programme and therefore an integral part of the European Union’s Cohesion Policy. It promotes cross-border cooperation between the coastal regions of 4 Member States: England, France, Belgium/Flanders and the Netherlands.

Our involvement is to provide knowledge and expertise and through EU funding, increase the adaptive lighting project to parts of Ipswich.

More information about the project can be found about Smart Light Concepts on YouTube.