National Highways is switching 70% of lights on the Strategic Road Network to cleaner LED alternatives by 2027.
The government-owned company is investing £132m over five years to replace older lamps with LED lights.
There are around 105,000 lights across the SRN, 26% of which are already LED. By March 2027, National Highways will have switched most of the remaining lights – taking the amount of environmentally friendly LED lights across the network to at least 70%.
This could mean using up to 65% less energy depending on the wattage of the existing lamps replaced – in the 2021/22 financial year, lighting accounted for 64% of National Highways’ corporate energy consumption.
The work started in January on the A5036 in the north-west.
The new LEDs, which have been replaced on an ad hoc basis over the years, last longer meaning fewer road closures and improved safety for roadworkers as they require less maintenance.
Road lighting makes up around half of National Highways’ corporate carbon emissions, which includes network lighting, roadside equipment, travel and offices. The company has pledged to hit net zero corporate emissions by 2030.
Steve Elderkin, director of environmental sustainability for National Highways, said: “These new LED lights will not only reduce our emissions and ensure that journeys are safer, but also reduce the amount of maintenance needed across the network.
“As a company, we manage 4,500 miles of road so it is vital we look to cleaner alternatives.
“We will continue to invest as technology becomes available, meeting the government’s Road to Zero strategy.”
LED lights are more controllable than previous types of street lighting as they can be dimmed when necessary and concentrate light on where it's needed with less light pollution.
Other benefits of LED lighting include: less energy required and cheaper to run; lower failure rate meaning fewer road closures and improved safety for roadworkers as less maintenance required; minimise obtrusive light by reducing light falling where it is not intended or needed and excessive brightness or glare.
The LED Upgrade Programme forms a key part of National Highways’ ambition to reduce corporate emissions to net zero by 2030, which includes cutting direct carbon emissions from road lighting, roadside equipment, travel, and offices by aiming to generate 10% of its electricity from renewable sources; planting at least three million trees; 75% reduction in corporate emissions by 2025; and 75% of its cars and vans electric or hybrid by 2025.