STREET LIGHTS which have been blazing brightly for 24 hours a day in the heart of London have finally been turned off – after three months of wasting vast amounts of energy.
Over 14,000 lights in the London Borough of Westminster, 60 per cent of the total in the area, have been illuminated around the clock since December 2018 – but no-one could switch them off since the controls manufacturer, Harvard Technology, went into administration.
Now specialist firm Lucy Zodion, hired by the local authority, has managed to get the sophisticated controls system working properly again.
A City of Westminster spokesman told Lux: ‘We’re delighted to report that the lights have been switched off.’
Councillor Tim Mitchell, Westminster City Council cabinet member for environment and city management, said: ‘Street lights were affected after our lighting operator contractor Harvard Technology Limited went into administration. However, a solution has now been found’.
The solution included an agreement with the administrator, which included a ‘small fee’.
‘From an environmental point of view we felt that it was important to get this resolved quickly and we are happy we’ve been able to do that.’
However, Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, Labour’s Environment and City Management spokesperson, has asked the authority for an urgent explanation as to ‘why it has taken the council nearly three months to fix this serious problem, how much the council has paid to get the street lights working properly and how are street lights will be managed in future so that this kind of problem does not arise again’.
The intelligent street lights were originally installed in 2011 and 2012 as part of Westminster City Council's Smart Lights project. The council hoped to save £8.4 million over the 20-year lifespan of the lights through reduced energy costs and maintenance requirements. The brightness of the lights was to be monitored by the council's CCTV network.
The lighting system comprises Harvard’s LeafNut technology, which uses wireless nodes to communicate back to a central hub.
Meanwhile more information on the background to the collapse of the company was revealed in a creditors’ report drawn up by the accountants Grant Thornton.
The document cites ‘competition from other component manufacturers’ and ‘public sector budget cuts’ which reduced the take up of the LeafNut system. This led to the company reporting a £4.2 million pre-tax loss on £21 million turnover for the financial year to 31 October 2017. Despite additional funding in January 2018, ‘depressed market conditions’, including delays and cancellations to large customer projects, meant further group losses of about £1.8 million were posted in the year to October 2018.
- Learn more about street lighting control at LuxLive 2019, taking place at London ExCeL on Wednesday 13 November and Thursday 14 November 2019. Entry is free. Register your interest to stay in the loop and see the full programme details HERE.