THE character of Bradford on Avon’s historic conservation area is being “totally transformed” by the switch-over to energy-saving Light Emitting Diode street lighting, one of the town’s residents has claimed.

Tony Stewart says Wiltshire Council’s £12 million investment to convert its street lighting to LED lighting has the potential to “totally ruin” Bradford on Avon’s Georgian heritage as it is “too white and too bright”.

The issue of the new LED street lighting is on the agenda for debate at Bradford on Avon Town Council’s environment and planning committee meeting next Tuesday, March 9.

In a post on local social media, Mr Stewart, 53, of Frome Road, said: “The town in my opinion is starting to be affected negatively by the replacement of the lamp posts with extremely bright all night LED lamp posts.

“While I am all for this as it is a great idea, I think the lighting brightness and temperature and implementation is very bad for the town.

“It is being done with no account being taken for the affect the extreme brightness of the LEDs will have on pedestrians, nature and wildlife despite the Wiltshire Council’s document saying something different.

“I feel the brightness is extremely too bright and the colour temperature is wrong. Choosing a day light white colour temperature for evening and nights is really not clever when they could have gone for something warmer, dimmer and still providing sufficient light to get around.

“At the moment as the lamp posts get slowly replaced the town will get brighter and brighter at night affecting everyone.

“During Covid we've been taking evening walks and it has been horrific seeing the slow replacement of these lamp posts with LEDs that are so bright they feel like they are actually burning my retina if I look directly at one or close to it.

“I'm not complaining about the replacement but the way it is being done with respect to brightness and colour temperature, it's just plain wrong and ugly and too bright.

“They are also totally transforming the character of the town at night from one that is or was inviting with the relatively manageable brightness of the yellow sodium or other kind of lighting which gives the town a calmer inviting yellow glow to one that is like bright daylight. The light is so bright cars do not even need to use headlights as they pass through town.”

“I have done some research and this is causing huge problems up and down the country with thousands of people putting in complaints to their local authorities who are managing similar programmes.

"It strikes me that the town council needs to be more proactive or involved in this before it totally ruins the town in the evening.”

A spokeswoman for Bradford on Avon Town Council said: “Street lighting is the responsibility of Wiltshire Council and whilst the town council is keen to ensure this is managed appropriately taking into consideration the impacts on wildlife, heritage and safety, we can only make decisions based on areas we manage.

“However, a lighting strategy is currently being developed for areas under our control, and those which we will acquire as part of the asset transfer process in the near future.

“Where appropriate the town council will coordinate and provide input to Wiltshire Council in respect of their LED replacement programme, though we broadly support the reduction of energy consumption afforded by the adoption of LED lighting when done sensitively.

"This will be discussed at the next environment and planning committee meeting on March 9.”

Wiltshire Council is making a £12.2 million investment to convert its street lighting to LED lighting by the end of this year. It says the older types of lights are going out of production and the cost of energy is becoming prohibitive.

Work started on the two-year project in Chippenham and the surrounding area in October 2019 and most street lights have now been upgraded in Amesbury, Devizes, Melksham, Salisbury and Westbury. The remaining areas of the county will be completed during 2021.

There are almost 45,000 street lights on Wiltshire Council's highway network. Energy costs have risen sharply in recent years and are likely to continue to rise in the longer term.

The annual cost for street lighting energy is currently over £1.9 million, and with current budget restrictions these costs are becoming increasingly unaffordable.

The council says the new LED lights are much more energy-efficient and have a reduced carbon footprint which will help the council to meet its target of being 100 carbon free by 2030.

Light from the LED units looks different as it is not orange in colour as some of the older lighting is. The new lights will provide similar lighting levels with less light spill and be considerably cheaper to operate and maintain.

Instead of being turned off for part of the night many of the lights will be dimmed during off-peak periods to further reduce energy consumption.

Cllr Bridget Wayman, the council’s cabinet member for highways said: “There are almost 45,000 street lights on Wiltshire Council’s highway network.

“In October 2019 we began a two-year programme to converting them all to LED lighting. The cost of the project is £12,295,000 but the reduction in annual energy costs means that this cost should be paid back in 11.88 years, or sooner depending on future energy costs.

“So far around half of our 45,000 street lights have been converted to LED lighting. When completed the switch to LED lighting will save around £1 million a year.

"Switching to LED lighting is one of the steps we are taking to reduce our carbon emissions and meet our 2030 carbon target.

“We haven’t received any complaints about the new lighting being brighter or causing light pollution, but we have received a couple of requests to return to part night operation and the new lighting makes it easier to control the hours of operation.

“Temporary units have been installed in some areas to provide short term lighting, but these will be changed to heritage units later with special units matching or similar to the existing lighting units.

"The effect on wildlife is generally positive as there is a reduction in light spillage.”