Southend secures Green Investment Bank funds for street lighting

5 Aug 15

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council has become the first local authority in England to secure finance from the Green Investment Bank to replace its streetlights with lower energy light emitting diode (LED) ones.

The bank will provide £8.2m alongside a £5.1m Department for Transport grant to enable the council to replace 14,000 lanterns and 4,000 items of illuminated street furniture, and to renew obsolete streetlight columns.

Using LED lights is expected to save Southend-on-Sea some £25m over 25 years as they will use at least 55% less energy than the existing lights and cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than 16,500 tonnes.

The project qualified for the GIB’s Green Loan, which offer local authorities a low, fixed-rate over up to 30 years for energy efficiency projects where repayments are less than the savings realised.

Glasgow City Council signed the first such deal earlier this year and the bank said it was in talks with a number of councils on similar projects.

Head of investment banking Ed Northam said: “Our Green Loan is tailor-made to fit the needs of individual authorities and is geared towards creating an invest-to-save mentality that saves both energy and costs while cutting greenhouse gas emissions.”

Street lighting is locally controversial as neighbouring Essex County Council has switched off its lights between 1am and 5am in most areas, a move it has said is saving some £1.4m a year. This stance has though antagonised some district councils.

Martin Terry, Southend’s executive member for public protection, waste and transport, said: “Unlike many other authorities in the country, this council was determined not to plunge our borough into darkness as a means of making much-needed savings.

“Instead we listened to the voice of local residents and opted to invest in green technology as a means of saving money in the longer term.”

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