Homeowners and council set to clash over lighting stand-off

LED Lighting. Photo: Michelle Ghee. www.gphotos.ie
Residents of Lisbreac and the Demesne will fight to have the old style orange sodium street lighting returned, a recent Town Council meeting heard.

Residents of Lisbreac and the Demesne will fight to have the old style orange sodium street lighting returned, a recent Town Council meeting heard.

The change from orange sodium lighting to new low energy LED lighting in the Lisbreac/Demesne area of Longford Town was discussed by the members of the council’s Joint Policing Committee. Following questions raised at a previous meeting Sergeant Paul McDermott conducted a survey of the LED lighting in the area.

Sgt Paul McDermott said, following a survey of LED lighting in the area, a low level of crime in the area existed.

He said that the pilot project to install the lights had been initiated by the council to address a number of concerns.

Among them was evidence which suggested conventional lights used a lot of energy and that the purpose of the street lighting was never to illuminate the houses, only the footpath.

Another drawback was that the older lighting’s orange glow made it more difficult to differentiate between colours. He said LED lights were between 40-80 per cent more efficient, offer lower light pollution and last between three and eight times longer.

Sgt McDermott said that not only do the newer lights reduce carbon footprint, they also give better coverage as the old lights only light in circles, which is not the case with LED.

Town Clerk Dan Rooney said the reason for launching the pilot project was as a result of a statutory instrument declaring that all local authorities had to reduce their energy consumption by 33 per cent by 2020.

Engineer with Longford Town Council, Brian McNeela, said that as the water treatment plants had gone to Irish Water this made that target even more difficult to reach and that all public lighting would be changed.

Local representatives were quick to voice their concerns however. Cllr Peggy Nolan said residents were very unhappy with the changes. She said that the LED lighting had resulted in the area being darker and that residents felt that this would encourage criminal activity.

“At no time was the light in the area efficient,” said the Fine Gael councillor. “People are afraid, I am fit enough to deal with anyone who would threaten me, but there are elderly people in the area who feel threatened by the changes.”

Cllr Mae Sexton backed that up, insisting residents would not take the changes lying down.

“They are not going to let this go without a fight and they have very real safety concerns.”

Fianna Fail’s Michael Connellan said the difficulty with low level street lighting was not limited to Lisbreac and the Demesne. He said he had been approached by residents of College Park also. He expressed his concern that legislation which called for a reduction in street lighting was not in the public interest.

In response, acting Superintendent Fran Nicholson vowed to closely monitor the situation.