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Live Labs 2 is a three-year, £30 million, UK-wide programme funded by the Department for Transport that will run until March 2026, with a five-year subsequent, extended monitoring and evaluation period. Live Labs 2 concentrates on local highways infrastructure and assets.
What is Live Labs 2?
The council has won a share of £3.3m from the Government after bidding on a £30m fund aimed at cutting the carbon footprint of the UK’s street lights and saving millions of pounds of public money.
East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s innovative project plans to research and implement measures to decarbonise the country’s street lights and introduce the next generation of road signs, road markings, and cat’s eyes, able to glow brighter in vehicle headlights.
Currently, the UK's 7.2 million street lights cost £3.5 billion a year – including £1 billion in energy costs.
They produce one million tonnes of carbon emissions, contributing to climate change.
In the first project of its kind in the UK, the council plans to carry out studies into the way roads are lit, and then use the data it gathers to inform other authorities across the country in order to drive change and create a new standard in street lighting for the future.
Trials are to be carried out along two of the East Riding’s busiest roads - the 31 mile stretch of the A1079 Hull to York corridor and the A164, which include the full range of speed limits, from 20mph to 70mph.
For the pilot scheme, the council has partnered with other authorities including Hull City Council, City of York Council, five further councils in England, and others in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
And it has already teamed up with Sheffield University, the Institute of Lighting Professionals and lighting companies together work to discover new, innovative and alternative products.
The scheme aims to explore more efficient uses and layouts for street lights, road signs and road markings. One product being considered is the introduction of solar-powered road studs, which shine much brighter than traditional cat’s eyes.
Councillor Jonathan Owen, leader of East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said: “This work is not only massively innovative – it will be the only such work of its kind in the UK – so the East Riding is leading the way.
“This will be the country’s first ever major review of street lighting, and how people perceive and appreciate different types of lights and differing levels.
“Britain's current road signs regulations were brought in in the 1960s, so it is high time they were reviewed and improved.
“Through this pilot scheme, we want to achieve major change and massively reduce energy consumption, and by doing that develop new guidelines to be adopted by local authorities nationally.”
East Riding of Yorkshire Council has 40,000 streetlights and 2,300 illuminated signs. So far 75% have been converted to lower-energy LED lighting.
It still costs the council £1.84m in electricity, and £850,000 in column maintenance, each year.
East Riding of Yorkshire Council, together with our partner councils, is leading the way to transform lighting on the public highway. Our aim is to lower the country’s carbon footprint, reduce costs to local authorities and protect and enhance nature and the environment.
The project is part of ADEPT Live Labs 2: Decarbonising Local Roads in the UK, a three-year, UK-wide £30 million programme funded by the Department for Transport that aims to decarbonise the local highway network.
Through this Live Lab and its pilot schemes, we will achieve major change in the way roads are seen by their users and we will also massively reduce energy consumption. At the same time, we will develop new guidelines and standards to be adopted by local authorities nationally.
In this first project of its kind in the UK, our country-wide collaboration of councils will carry out studies into the way roads are lit and illuminated. The data gathered will be used to help and inform other authorities across the country and drive change through creation of a new standard in street lighting and illumination for a low carbon future.
Streetlights will always be with us. In some places we may need to evaluate and increase lighting to meet modern requirements, which dated standards have neglected, taking the opportunity to incorporate equality, diversity and active travel needs and aspirations into British standards.
By engaging with protected characteristic groups through community engagement, stakeholder group engagement and user satisfaction surveys, we will bring a design-led approach to the future of lighting and illumination. Conversely, we will evidence that for many parts of the UK we can match or exceed high visual appreciation of the streetscape with lighting and illumination targeted only where needed, removing superfluous lighting across the network.
Currently, the UK's 7.2 million street lights cost £3.5 billion a year – including £1 billion in energy costs. This innovative project will explore more efficient and effective uses and layouts for street lights, road signs and road markings.
The councils included in East Riding’s Live Lab represent over 10% of the UK street lighting stock and unrivalled experience of road lighting. Our partners extend across the whole of the UK and include:
We will not only tackle the designs and standards, but also challenging the deep rooted cultural and social aspects of street lighting that have developed since the post war era as street lighting and the highway visual realm has evolved. It has deep rooted social aspects and a multitude of interested stakeholders, including economic and residents’ groups, law enforcement and security.
This highlights the deficiencies in the current British Standards and emphasises the cultural change required not only within the sector, but with the wider population. It is our intention to explore this and bring the human element into highway visual design, whilst achieving substantive carbon reduction.
We aim to explore the impacts of street lighting on night time economies, the feelings of safety, investigating the recorded crimes at night and the realities of the impacts of street lighting on actual safety along with the needs of all user groups of the streets at night time. Having lighting does not always equal being safe and we intend to explore this both from a road user and pedestrian point of view.
This Live Lab provides the right opportunity at the right time. The climate emergency and current energy crisis dictate that providing the sector with a method to baseline its carbon impact and affect change, which is supported through academic rigour and evidence-based solutions, will offer highway authorities not only the chance to show positive effects on its carbon footprint but provide greater value for money for all their users.
The Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning & Transport (ADEPT) represents local authority county, unitary and metropolitan directors across England. Live Labs 2 includes seven projects, grouped by four interconnected themes, led by local authorities working alongside commercial and academic partners. Each project is testing new solutions to decarbonise construction, maintenance and decommissioning the local highway network. The programme is overseen by an independent Commissioning Board, which includes the Department for Transport and other experts from across the public and private sectors. For more information on Live Labs 2, please visit the live labs website or read the blog post by Karl Rourke on the Live Labs website.
Where can I get more information about this project?
Please take a look at the press office releases of DfT and Adept if you need more information about Live Labs 2: