The final phase of a project to convert every one of Devon County Council’s 79,000 streetlights to low carbon LEDs has begun.
And once complete Devon County Council (DCC) will have reduced the carbon emissions generated by its streetlighting by 75 per cent, reducing carbon emissions by more than 15,000 tonnes each year, the equivalent of taking 8,000 cars off the road.
In February DCC declared a ‘climate emergency’ and is now working with other councils, emergency services and business groups to ensure that Devon achieves a net zero carbon footprint.
Streetlighting is DCC's largest single source of carbon emissions and since 2015 the authority has converted 34,000 streetlights to low energy LEDs. Now DCC has started to convert the remainder.
The project will take three years and once completed the improvements to street lighting alone will have reduced the authority’s total carbon emissions by 36 per cent.
It is estimated that this, in conjunction with part-time lighting introduced in many residential areas from 2008, will cut energy costs in half - reducing annual energy costs by £3million a year at current prices.
This scheme will help ensure that the council remains on track to exceed the IPCC’s recommendations to reduce emissions by 45 per cent by 2030.
DCC is also investing £250,000 to create a Devon Carbon Plan – a road map towards net zero carbon emissions - and projects including helping vulnerable people improve the efficiency of their homes through the Local Energy Advice Programme (LEAP). and the setting up of community energy organisations.
There are currently 23 in Devon, more than any other county in the country, and they help communities generate their own energy.
Councillor Roger Croad, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member said: “In 2006 our strategic plan set a goal to make Devon 'England’s Greenest County.'
“We recognised then that this could only be achieved by using energy more efficiently, reducing our carbon footprint and working with others.
“We still have a long way to go to reduce carbon dioxide levels, but we are making significant progress and I’m pleased that this scheme has shown tangible results.”
Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highway Management, said: “I’m delighted that we have now started the final phase of a project that began over 10 years ago.
“Through forward planning we have been able to save millions of pounds of taxpayers money and significantly reduce the council’s carbon emissions since the policy was first introduced in 2008.”