Street light controllers ‘killing sparrows’

A ROW has broken out in Gateshead in the north of England over the alleged ‘decimation’ of small birds by street lighting controllers.

Anti-electromagnetic wave campaigner Mark Steele says that transmitters installed on council street lights have ‘annihilated’ small birds and insects in the area.

He also claims that residents living close to the masts have experienced symptoms such as nose bleeds.

Larger species such as seagulls, crows, starlings and magpies were unaffected, but sparrows have disappeared, say locals.

‘Where have all the birds gone?,’ asked Steele. ‘People are asking Gatehead Council why they have annihilated all the small birds’. He blames the ‘microwave transmitters emitting experimental radiation’ from the top of the street lighting columns.

LeafNut uses WiMAC (wireless management and control) technology to remotely monitor and control the output of each individual street light using a combination of GPRS and FM radio frequency of 868 MHz. 

’31,875 experimental radiation transmitters [result in] no birds,’ says Steele. ‘No small flying insects.’ He says he’s also concerned about the effect on children and pregnant women.

The street lighting control units are believed to be the sophisticated LeafNut wireless central management system using electronic dimmable drivers, supplied by Leeds-based Harvard Technology in a £6 million contract as part of the authority’s carbon reduction project. LeafNut uses WiMAC (wireless management and control) technology to remotely monitor and control the output of each individual street light using a combination of GPRS and an FM radio frequency of 868 MHz. 

Steele disputes the nature of the transmitters as part of the local authority’s street lighting central management system, claiming they are part of a trial of forthcoming 5G mobile telephony.

‘Gateshead Council tells us this is safe but they had evidence back in 2015’. Steele claims the council refused to pass over the evidence, even when requested using Freedom of Information legislation.

Responding to Steele’s allegations at a sitting of Gateshead Metropolitan Borough Council on 24 November, a council engineer said the health effects of exposure to radio frequency had been researched and reviewed over several decades.

‘The advice from the World Health Organisation, the European Commission and Public Health England is that there is no convincing evidence that radio wave exposure causes health effects in either adults or children.’

'LeafNut has been operating globally for over 10 years with nearly 500,000 active nodes,' said a spokesman for Harvard Technology.  'The product is CE marked and we have previously provided Declaration of Conformity, which confirms compliance with legislative requirements'.





  • Lux has unveiled the programme for its Lighting for Transport and Infrastructure conference, taking place in London on Thursday 22 February 2018. It includes sessions on glare, light pollution, electric vehicle charging on street lights, street lights asset management, IoT street lighting control and LEDs and mesopic vision. Places are free of charge to those responsible for street lighting assets. To view the programme and register, click HERE.







Main image: Szilu Szilárd Photography 2015 via FlickrMedia Commons