Streetlighting PFIs Across the UK

In July 2009, there were 19 streetlighting Private Finance Initiative projects up and running, and many others at various stages of completion, including:

Nottingham City Council
Suffolk County Council
Norfolk County Council
South Tyneside Council
London Borough of Lambeth
Oldham and Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Councils
Durham County Council and Stockton Borough Council
Leeds City Council

The following councils were approved for PFI credits in February 2010:

Durham & Stockton - £126M
Essex - £164M
Gloucestershire - £80M
Hertfordshire - £140M
Kirklees - £66M
Warrington - £46M

These authorities now must submit outline business cases before entering the procurement stage.

In most cases, councils have opted to use a white-light lightbulb called the CosmoPolis, made by Philips. Current streetlighting tends to use a high pressure sodium bulb (orange glow) or a mercury vapour bulb (white glow). Mercury vapour lights are to be banned/phased out by EU rules by 2015.

On the 9th February Harrow Borough Council announced that it was dumping its PFI streetlighting scheme - "While the Department for Transport recognised, and still does recognise, the merit of our proposal, it was irresponsible of us to commit to £1m a year over 25 years - a key condition of the PFI contract - given the unprecedented financial pressures on us caused by the credit crunch." - Cllr Susan Hall.

According to the Harrow Times, the PFI scheme was applied for under the previous Labour administration, then later approved during the Tories' reign, who cancelled it following questions raised by the Harrow Times. Durham's PFI has recently been attacked in the local press.

The latest innovation in streetlighting is white-LED lighting, often found in newer handheld torchlights. A number of foreign cities have already made the switch to LED streetlights. The Philips CosmoPolis light has a lifetime of 30,000-60,000 hours, according to Philips' own technical specifications. In contrast, LED (Light Emitting Diode) technology is said to have a lifetime of 50,000-100,000 hours and is considerably more energy efficient. At the present time, the initial outlay is more expensive, but this price seems likely to fall over time, as high-power white LED lighting is still a relatively new innovation.

Notes and Research

Promotional literature from Urbis, a popular commerical partner for PFI lighting schemes
South Tyneside/Philips CosmoPolis case study from Voltimum
Background to streetlighting PFIs
July 2009 news on third round of PFI schemes for streetlighting.
New streetlighting schemes for 2010