Our street lights are ‘brighter than the SUN’: Fury over 28,000 new LED road lamps that cost £7m and keep locals awake… and dim council can’t turn them down
- LED lamps installed in Swindon, Wilts, as part of £6.9m council-led eco scheme
- People have complained that it’s like trying to snooze ‘next to Wembley Stadium’
- Swindon Borough Council is replacing 28,000 lights in the area – and is waiting for software to dim the bulbs
New eco-streetlamps are preventing furious residents in Wiltshire from sleeping because the lights are ‘brighter than the sun’ – and the council hasn’t got the right software to turn them down.
The LED-powered lamps were installed in Swindon as part of a £6.9million council-led scheme to help the environment.
But people have complained that it’s like trying to snooze ‘next to Wembley Stadium’.
The lights have been installed as Swindon Borough Council replaces 28,000 lights in the area.
However, the authorities can’t yet control the brightness because they are still waiting for the software to arrive.
New eco-streetlamps are preventing residents in Swindon, Wiltshire, from sleeping because the lights are ‘brighter than the sun’ – and the council hasn’t got the right software to turn them down
The LED-powered lamps are being installed in Swindon as part of a £6.9m council-led scheme to help the environment. But people have complained that it’s like trying to snooze ‘next to Wembley Stadium’
One resident said: ‘We should not have to buy blackout curtains or blinds because the council choose to change the lightbulbs. It’s ridiculous.’ The lights have been installed as Swindon Borough Council replaces 28,000 lights in the area
Swindon Borough Council said on its website: ‘Different colour temperatures are available; however, Swindon has chosen a warm white of 3000k’. (Above, one of the new eco-lamps)
Helena Bowie lives with her husband John in Penhill Drive, where the lamps were replaced in the middle of August.
She said: ‘They are so bright. They’ve got four huge floodlights, and we have three just outside on the roundabout. We’re right in the middle of all of it. It’s like living next to Wembley Stadium.
‘We’ve got three of those ones on the roundabout shining right at us, plus one to the left of our house. I’m not against the LED bulbs because of what they’re for. They’re there to be better for the environment.
‘But they’re just too bright. There’s just no shade from them. We’re very annoyed. We didn’t even know they were being put in. It’s just been awful, it’s an absolute nightmare.
‘You’d think they could dim them a little bit at midnight. What’s the point of putting them up if they don’t have that software yet?
‘We’ve chosen a warm white’: Swindon council’s light scheme
On Swindon Borough Council’s website, residents were given these answers to their concerns…
HOW ARE THE LIGHTS GOING TO BE DIFFERENT?
LEDs produce a whiter light than given off by old traditional lighting known as high and low pressure sodium which appear orange in colour. Colours become much more identifiable and objects more clear. Different colour temperatures are available; however, Swindon has chosen a warm white of 3000k.
WILL THE NEW LIGHTS GIVE THE SAME LIGHT AS THE EXISTING UNITS?
All areas to be lit with new LED lights will be checked to ensure that the light levels achieved comply with the minimum standards of the relevant British Standards.
‘We should not have to buy blackout curtains or blinds because the council choose to change the lightbulbs. It’s ridiculous.’
Her husband is registered legally blind but can see light and shade and is also autistic. Ms Bowie says the lights cause him particular problems:
She said: ‘Because my husband is visually impaired, when he steps outside at night, the brightness causes his eyes physical pain. They’re not even all the same shade – some are brighter than others.
‘He has a sensitivity to light because of the autism, and problems with his sight means the light hurts his eyes as well. It is disturbing him and he doesn’t sleep well anyway, but it is making it worse.
‘People might say we should wear an eye mask or get blackout blinds or curtains, but I don’t think we should be forced to do that – for families on a low income, that’s a big cost to struggle with.’
Other residents are experiencing the same problem and have taken to social media to complain.
David Oakley posted in a community page: ‘These are bright white and at least four times brighter than the original. They fitted a cover on the old light as that kept me awake. This is much worse. These need to be lower wattage and have diffusers and probably soft white light.’
Jane Toomer added: ‘We have had them for a while. They were just changed one day with no warning. Nothing keeps the light out of our bedroom and I haven’t slept properly since.
Hilary Care wrote: ‘We’ve had them fitted and it’s like daylight shining in all the time. First time I noticed it had been changed, I thought someone had parked up opposite the house and left their lights on full beam. I hate them.’
The council has moved to reassure people that newly installed LED streetlights will be dimmed soon.
Regarding the lack of dimming, the council said: ‘Unfortunately, the new lanterns cannot be dimmed as soon as they are installed because this needs to be applied via special software. We would like to reassure residents we are working with the contractor to implement the dimming function as quickly as possible’
The light installation scheme is expected to take 18months – and will save the council hundreds of thousands of pounds a year
A spokesman said: ‘Upgrading Swindon’s 28,000 streetlights to LED lanterns is a huge programme of work, which will take about 18 months to complete.
‘Once installed, the new lights will consume less energy, reduce light pollution and will save the council hundreds of thousands of pounds a year.
‘Unfortunately, the new lanterns cannot be dimmed as soon as they are installed because this needs to be applied via special software.
‘We would like to reassure residents that we are working with the contractor to implement the dimming function as quickly as possible.
‘So far, streetlights are being upgraded in Moredon, Pinehurst, Upper Stratton, Ferndale, Gorse Hill and Highworth, and a number of the streets in those areas are now benefitting from the dimmed lights.’
‘Our project team are happy to help any residents who have been experiencing problems with the new lights.’
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