Streetlights and the total eclipse of the… credibility – #Manchester #climate #toptrumps

Manchester City Council’s carbon emissions are, even from the false baseline of 2009/10, climbing.  It says something that one of the few numbers they are able to cite in their entire “plan” for 2013/4 is for… 68 tonnes, a trivial amount. (see below for context)

What it says

toptrump0094.24 Street lighting – street lighting partners Amey are due to complete the replacement of signage luminaires to LEDs this year, which will produce an annual saving of 124,956 kWh and 68 tonnes of CO2 . Work will also be undertaken this year to establish an ambitious programme of LED street lighting replacement, to form part of the Council’s first three year Carbon Reduction Plan.

What was said last year (direct quote from 2012/13 plan)

4.6.3 Street Lighting
 The Council is working to significantly reduce the energy consumption of its street lighting and is currently exploring replacing street lights across the city with LED fittings, and/or slightly reducing the brightness of the lighting without impacting on the highway user.
 These measures would greatly reduce the cost of street lighting energy which is approximately £3m p.a.
 In addition, the Street Lighting PFI Service Provider (Amey) has commenced a programme of replacing existing illuminated bollards and signs with LED

MCFly’s verdict (Is it ambitious enough, is it likely to happen, is this meaningless gibberish/stuff that they were already doing designed to pad out a thin plan, what questions about this “action” are yet to be answered etc etc)

Spot the difference –

“The Council is … currently exploring replacing street lights across the city with LED fittings, and/or slightly reducing the brightness of the lighting without impacting on the highway user”


“Work will also be undertaken this year to establish an ambitious programme of LED street lighting replacement”

The first promise was in 2012.  This second is this year.  Oh, such progress, such progress; They’ve added the word “ambitious”!

What would a proper three year plan around this item look like?

How can culture be shifted around this item?

What else should the Council be doing around this item?

Other info n/a

Phone numbers and emails of the organisations n/a



In 2012 Manchester City Council aimed for a 10% reduction in its own emissions. In July 2013 it claimed a 7% reduction. It was able to do this because responsibility for traffic lights moved from its books. Looking at everything else (buildings, transport) emissions went … UP by 1.8%.
So, building on that extremely strong base, the Council’s bureaucrats have proposed a series of actions to help them hit a new “7%” target. You can see the complete list here. Manchester Climate Monthly is going to take a closer look at each and every one of these 44 “actions.”

Twice a week, on “Annual Plan Tuesdays” and “Annual Plan Thursdays” we will be asking a few straightforward questions about each item. And to illustrate each post, we (Marc Hudson and Marc Roberts) are devising “Top Trump” cards for all of these actions. At two a week it will take you until December or so to collect the whole set… So far can’t give you a percentage on the 2005 figure, since the Council has been going off its 2009/10 baseline, in direct contradiction of its own plan.

And throughout all of this, we are asking YOU, the reader, and council tax payer (probably), what YOU think the Council should REALLY be doing… Because next year the council moves to a “three year plan.” And given what we already know of the low quality of the carbon plans and their implementation so far, we, the citizens, will be complicit if we remain silent…


About manchesterclimatemonthly

Was print format from 2012 to 13. Now web only. All things climate and resilience in (Greater) Manchester.
This entry was posted in Climate Change Action Plan, Democratic deficit, Manchester City Council and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Streetlights and the total eclipse of the… credibility – #Manchester #climate #toptrumps

  1. Itis worth examining everything closely.
    It looks to me like,
    1) The replacement of signage lighting started last year and will be completed this year.
    2) Last year options for street lighting were being explored. This appears to have been done now with the result that they have gone for the LED option (not the diming option) and that will be established (started?) this year.
    It isn’t fast enough given the need for (yes) ambitious reductions in emissions, but I don’t think you can claim that they’ve merely added the word ambitious.
    I do agree that greater clarity (!) would help and an organisation with a memory would refer to its previous year’s objectives. Indeed we need precision on all sides.

    • You are almost certainly correct about the specifics of this instance (I shall re-read).
      You are totally correct about the need for precision; just because the Council is sloppy, confused and mendacious doesn’t mean its critics can be!
      On the general point about clarity – well, the Council, with its farcical claim to have reduced emissions in the last year, has zero clarity, zero credibility. The only way they could claw any of that back is regular, clear reporting of progress and lack of progress on specific points. And they were very VERY resistant to that idea at the July meeting of Neighbourhoods Scrutiny Committee.

  2. Simon Nicholas says:

    I cannot believe how gullible the Council officers are. Amey must be laughing all the way to the bank.
    A whopping £33m of council tax payers money being spent to consign 56,000 perfectly adequate existing lights to the skip …….70%+ of which are less than half way through their design life. What’s eco-friendly about that?
    What the propaganda fails to tell us (do they really understand the subject matter?) is that a significant proportion of the energy savings will have nothing to do with LEDs (which aren’t that energy efficient like-for-like) but from reducing overall lighting levels as allowed under the 2013 revision of BS5489.
    These savings could just as easily be made without spending millions on LEDs. Similarly, savings gained by night time dimming through a Central Management System could also be acheived without the need to replace existing luminaires with LEDs.
    Then there’s the whole issue of the health concerns caused by light pollution from the high blue-content emitted by LED street lighting.

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