Torbay goes green with LED

The new festoon lighting in Torquay.

The new festoon lighting in Torquay. - Credit: Andy Uglow/www.pyramidtorbay.co.uk

Environmental sustainability must influence everything we do.

There are a number of initiatives already under way by the council as it works towards becoming a carbon neutral community.

These range from encouraging people to get out of their cars and walk, cycle, or use public transport to seeing how we can reduce our carbon emissions from our homes and council buildings.

Friday, August 13, was a red-letter day for Torbay where we saw the £200,000 investment into the new festoon lighting around Princess Gardens and Torre Abbey Sands being officially switched on.

As the lights are LED, they will use a fraction of the electricity that the previous lights did and yet be a significant attraction.

Similar lights are set to come on stream on Paignton seafront once final testing has been completed with the contractors.

We are not just investing in festoon lighting; we want to make people feel safer walking on our promenades, parks and streets by investing in lighting in these areas.

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After a decade of austerity and cuts to the budget for this service, there is now a backlog of more than £2 million of repairs left from previous Tory administrations that we need to play catch up on.

Now that the Liberal Democrat/Independent partnership that runs Torbay Council has a firmer grip on the finances, the significant financial savings made by the council in 2020/21 means that an additional £100,000 is to be invested during this financial year to upgrade Torbay’s street lighting.

There are around 15,800 street lights across Torbay, the vast majority on street lighting columns.

The additional investment has allowed for over 200 street lighting columns that are past their recommended shelf life to be renewed this year.

In October, 47 street lighting columns are due to be replaced in Paignton, along with 78 in Brixham.

However, despite this, more investment is needed to bring all street lighting columns up to standard.

By standard I not only mean in terms of health and safety, but from an energy consumption point of view.

More than 70 per cent of Torbay’s street lighting uses LED.

Such lamps were first introduced in Torbay in 2014 in order to substantially reduce the carbon emissions and energy costs associated with lighting.

Since then, significant savings have indeed been achieved in overall energy consumption and carbon emissions.

A report due to be considered at Cabinet this month will look at in greater detail at how we can further prioritise street lighting.

We asked for this report in the aftermath of the Sarah Everard murder; as the evenings get darker it is important that community safety is at the forefront of the council’s concerns and everyone feels safe in our streets.

One of the most important ways we can achieve carbon neutrality is to change how we power our homes and businesses.

As a council, we are looking to develop a solar scheme at Nightingale Park that will provide renewable energy for Torbay Hospital.

This will not only reduce Torbay’s carbon footprint, but it would make Torbay Hospital one of the greenest hospitals in the country.

Public consultation prior to the submission of a planning application will be starting shortly with the local Neighbourhood Planning Group and Community Partnership Group.

Standard planning consultation will also take place as part of the planning process.

It’s great to see so many local residents supporting our climate change agenda, whether by taking part in litter picks and beach cleans or by letting us know what they’d like to see for Torbay’s open spaces via the Open Spaces Strategy consultation.

There’s still time for you to get involved and help shape the new Open Spaces Strategy by completing the survey which can be found via: www.torbay.gov.uk/council/consultations/open-spaces-survey