Submitted by Editor on Tue, 10/03/2020 - 06:54

Edinburgh Council’s programme to upgrade street lighting across the capital will begin in the City Centre Ward 11 (see map below) on 6 April and continue into June.

Over 3,000 bulbs, starting in Coates and moving eastwards, will be replaced with LED ones. The benefits claimed for these include:

  • whiter and clearer light compared to the old sodium glow
  • less ‘spill’ onto areas that don’t require illumination
  • less glare and dazzle
  • 60–70 per cent less energy use
  • almost completely recyclable
  • long-lasting (25 years)
  • saving £54M on energy, maintenance and disposal costs over 20 years.

In the vast majority of cases, it will be the bulbs which get replaced, not the columns they sit on or hang from.

A variety of optics will be deployed to cast the light appropriately on the carriageway and pavement according to the particular layout of the site.

Edinburgh World Heritage-approved ‘conservation lanterns’ will be installed in Conservation Areas, and bespoke solutions will also be used for other sensitive locations.

In 12 cases, damaged or corroding lampposts will be replaced, and when this happens they will generally be repositioned to the back of pavements where they are less likely to get knocked down by vehicles. This will also have the effect of reducing the appearance of ‘street clutter’.

At the same time bulbs are replaced, a new Cloud-linked control system will be attached. This will do away with the former timers, and should make identifying faulty lights much easier in future.

The current project does not extend to the tram route, which will be handled separately.


There are four main challenges facing the operation:

  • Weather. Mobile elevated working platforms (MEWPs) cannot operate at high elevations in strong winds. Fortunately, it is never windy in Edinburgh.
  • Parked cars blocking access. Look out for information signs/wraparounds positioned in advance.
  • Racket. Each replacement takes about 15 minutes, but even with muffled equipment, the job creates noise . So, where safe access can only be arranged at night, residents may expect short periods of disturbance.
  • Interference from trees and bushes. Over 2,000 householders across Edinburgh have been sent letters explaining their responsibility to cut back where necessary.

This is a big and complicated project which, so far, appears to be progressing more or less on schedule. For which, the Council and contractors AMEY deserve credit.

For more on the history of Edinburgh illumination, go HERE. For the opinion of someone who doesn’t much like it, go HERE.

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[Image top-right by photoeverywhere.]