Southend-on-Sea secures Green Investment Bank deal

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council has become the first local authority in England to secure funding from the Green Investment Bank (GIB) to replace streetlighting.

The local authority has secured £8.2m from the GIB to replace 14,000 streetlights, 4,000 illuminated signs and bollards in the borough with new LED systems.

The GIB has agreed to provide the funding alongside a grant of £5.1m from the Department for Transport (DfT) as part of a £13.5m programme of refurbishments that will see 14,000 lanterns and around 4,000 other pieces of illuminated street furniture, replaced.

The council believes that the installation of LED streetlighting will more than pay for itself through savings of around £25m over 25 years. 

The lights are expected to use at least 55 per cent less energy than existing lights and to cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than 16,500 tonnes during their lifetime.

The scheme qualified for the GIB’s Green Loan, which offers UK local authorities a low, fixed-rate financial arrangement over a period of up to 30 years. 

“Local authorities throughout the UK are increasingly adopting cost-effective ways of improving their services,” said Head of Investment Banking at the Green Investment Bank, Ed Northam.

“Our Green Loan is tailor-made to fit the needs of individual authorities and is geared towards creating an invest-to-save mentality that saves both energy and costs while cutting greenhouse gas emissions. We’re delighted to have helped Southend-on-Sea Borough Council accelerate its streetlighting refit programme and hope that the agreement encourages its peer organisations to consider initiating similar strategies.”

Cllr Martin Terry, Executive Member for Public Protection, Waste & Transport at Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, added: “Bringing this popular project forward is a win-win situation. The sooner we replace every lamp in the Borough, the sooner we can save money, reduce carbon emissions and provide residents and motorists with brighter, cleaner light.

“Unlike many other authorities in the country, this council was determined not to plunge our borough into darkness as a means of making much-needed savings. Instead we listened to the voice of local residents and opted to invest in green technology as a means of saving money in the longer term. We’ve chose a pioneering solution that shields residents from increased fear of crime and poorer road safety that are often associated with turning the streetlights out.

We’re proud to be the first local authority in England to use the Green Investment Bank in this way, securing a favourable financial arrangement that will speed up this ambitious, innovative and hugely important project.”

Jamie Hailstone is a freelance journalist and author, specializing in local government, transport and energy issues