We are investing almost £12 million to convert approximately 29,000 of our street lights to low energy LED units.

The project does not include replacing the lighting columns, so it will be relatively quick and simple to upgrade Bristol's street lights. 

It will be a rolling programme through each area of the city starting from March 2023 and it will take three years to complete. 

Reasons for the upgrade 

Having declared a climate emergency in 2018, we are upgrading our street lighting to LEDs to support carbon reduction and cost savings in the longer term.

We have received funding to upgrade all city street lights in the project to LEDs by the end of 2025, working with the contractor, Centregreat

This work is an important part of our plan to reduce energy consumption, carbon usage, and ongoing street lighting maintenance costs.

About LED lighting 

LED stands for light-emitting diode. The LED light source is highly efficient and environmentally friendly. It is more controllable than previous types of street lighting as it can be dimmed when necessary and concentrates light on where it's needed with less light pollution.

LED lighting delivers the same amount of light using approximately 30 to 40 per cent of the power required by traditional light sources. They also power up instantly, not needing time to warm up like older lighting.

Typically, LEDs last 100,000 burning hours, which is roughly a 20 year lifespan. This is five times longer than traditional lamps such as high-pressure sodium. 

The benefits of LED lighting 

Using LEDs will:  

  • be much more energy efficient and reduce energy consumption 

  • last longer and reduce the likelihood of faults

  • minimise light pollution into homes and gardens by directing light onto the road and pavement where it is needed

  • be programmable so they can be dimmed when appropriate

LEDs are as safe as other light sources 

Exposure to light from an LED is as safe as being exposed to natural lighting or any other artificial light source.

A study examining the effect of LEDs and other sources to the retina concluded that they do not present any risk to the retina for short exposure times. 

Dimming LEDs

The new street lights will be dimmed, which will be carried out in accordance with the British Standards as road use decreases throughout the night. This will increase the energy saved and ensure roads are lit according to use.

Central management system (or CMS)

As part of the upgrade, we are introducing a central management system that will allow us to control and monitor our upgraded street lighting remotely. 

Using this smart city, wireless technology, we will be able to dim lights or light up an area with the touch of a button, which could further reduce energy consumption.  

Costings and timings 

The overall cost of the scheme is £11.8m. 

By upgrading all our street lighting, it could save us up to £2 million a year in energy and maintenance costs. 

We also project that it will save 13,000 tonnes of carbon a year (within 10 years). 

The installation of the LEDs and central management system will take up to three years to complete. 


Residents are often surprised at the apparent brightness of a newly installed LED street light. 

LEDs offer a whiter light with better colour contrast so that objects are more visible for road users and residents alike.

Most people perceive the light from LEDs as brighter, whereas in fact it is just whiter and clearer. 

Studies show that our eyes adjust to the new light over a few weeks, so we ask that residents wait up to eight weeks for their eyes to adjust to the new light before deciding whether to contact us.

Lighting private homes and gardens

Street lighting is only intended to light the public highway. It is the responsibility of individual property owners to provide lighting within their private property as required.

In certain circumstances, it may appear that the lighting seems insufficient. However, this is because there is significantly reduced spilt light onto properties and gardens.

Light shields 

In the past we installed shields in locations where residents' properties were affected by the light glare. 

As LED street lights direct light on the roads and pavements, there is no longer a need for the shields.

What to expect with the works 

It typically takes around 20 minutes to upgrade each street light. 

The work will take place in daylight hours. 

When we've replaced the lantern in each street light, we'll turn them on for 2 hours at a low level to test them. 

A mobile elevated platform will be required to replace the lanterns with basic signing and guarding in place in residential areas.

On main roads, traffic management requirements will be assessed on a road-by-road basis and mainly through signage and cones, but some instances may require reduced speed limits past the area or temporary traffic management for short periods.

Certain installation will require working at the weekends or working at night. 

Promotion of the works in your area and what you can do to help

We will notify you in the weeks leading up to the works starting in your area. This will be through posters on street lights in your area.

You may also receive a letter to tell you which day your street will be upgraded, asking you to leave a 3 metre space either side of the street light to allow the mobile elevated platform to park next to the column and work safely and not above a parked vehicle. 

We'll put tow away signs and cones on streets before the work starts to make sure there's space near the street lights.

Scope of works 

Every street light on the adoptable highway that is not already an LED is being upgraded or having a CMS node installed into an existing LED lantern. 

Heritage lanterns will be upgraded on an ad hoc basis and then any remaining street light lanterns will be replaced in the last year of the scheme. 

Car parks, parks, Bristol Harbour and council housing is not included in this project. 

Reusing and recycling parts 

The lanterns we remove will be reused where appropriate or recycled through the Lumicom recycling scheme which is organised to ensure compliance of the WEEE directive for electrical component recycling. 

Keeping you up to date 

We will update this web page as the project progresses across the city. We will also use the council's social media channels to promote the scheme.