Green Investment Bank funds £13.3m streetlight retrofit in Southend

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council has become the first local authority in England to secure finance from the UK Green Investment Bank (GIB) to replace its existing streetlights with low-energy alternatives.

GIB will lend £8.2m, alongside a grant of £5.1m from the Department for Transport, to finance the installation of LED bulbs in 18,000 pieces of ‘illuminated street furniture’.

The funding will also pay for the installation of a central management system (CMS) that will allow the council to remotely manage its lanterns across the borough. The CMS is intended to improve monitoring and metering, allowing the council to manage its lighting estate more effectively.

The council believes that the transition to LEDs will more than pay for itself, with savings of around £25m over 25 years. The LEDs are expected to use at least 55% less energy than existing lights and to cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than 16,500 tonnes during their lifetime.

Public sector efficiency

The scheme qualified for the GIB’s Green Loan, which offers UK local authorities a fixed-rate financial arrangement for up to a 30 year period. It has been specifically designed to finance public sector energy efficiency projects where repayments are less than the savings realised.

GIB signed a similar agreement last year with Glasgow City Council and says it is in discussions with a number of other local authorities and public bodies about financing further streetlighting and low carbon and renewables projects.

GIB head of investment banking Ed Northam added: “Local authorities throughout the UK are increasingly adopting cost-effective ways of improving their services. 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.


Converting the UK’s streetlights to LEDs could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 475,000 tonnes every year, equivalent to taking more than 200,000 cars off the road

Martin Terry, the executive member for public protection, waste & transport at Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, said the agreement was a ‘win-win’. “The sooner we replace every lamp in the Borough, the sooner we can save money, reduce carbon emissions and provide residents and motorists with brighter, cleaner light,” said Terry.

“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.

“We’ve chose a pioneering solution that shields residents from increased fear of crime and poorer road safety that are often associated with turning the streetlights out.”

In June, edie reported that the Government is selling a majority stake in the Green Investment Bank – a funding project that was a central promise in the Conservatives’ 2010 manifesto – in a move that drew immediate criticism from environmental groups.

Brad Allen

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