We're lighting the way to net zero


09 Feb 2023

We're switching 70% of lights on the Strategic Road Network (SRN) to cleaner LED alternatives by 2027.

We're lighting the way to net zero

Its our biggest-ever programme replacing older lamps with LED lights that use far less energy to produce the same amount of light, starting last month (January) on the A5036 in the North West.

There are around 105,000 lights across the SRN, 26% of which are already LED. By March 2027, we'll have invested £132m over a five-year period to retrofit most of the remaining lights – taking the amount of environmentally friendly LED lights across the network to at least 70%.

Typically, this could mean using up to 65% less energy depending on the wattage of the existing lamps replaced; this matters because lighting accounted for 64% of our corporate energy consumption in the 2021/22 financial year.

The new LEDs also last longer, meaning fewer road closures and improved safety for roadworkers as they require less maintenance.

Road lighting makes up around half of our corporate carbon emissions, which includes network lighting, roadside equipment, travel and our offices.

With a pledge to hit net zero corporate emissions by 2030, it's important that we introduce more energy-efficient lighting technologies.

And while LED switchover has happened on an ad hoc basis over the years, this marks the start of a dedicated multi-million-pound investment specifically aimed at upgrading 70% of streetlights to LED by 2027 as per the target in the Net Zero plan.

Steve Elderkin, Director of Environmental Sustainability for National Highways, said:

“These new LED lights will not only reduce our emissions and ensure that journeys are safer, but also reduce the amount of maintenance needed across the network.

“As a company, we manage 4,500 miles of road so it is vital we look to cleaner alternatives."

Decarbonisation Minister Jesse Norman said:

“The Government has an ambitious and credible plan to deliver its net zero targets.

"Today’s announcement shows the progress being made to decarbonise all aspects of the UK’s roads, improving journeys for drivers while reducing the need for lighting repairs and road closures”.

Martin Hobbs, National Programmes Director for the LED Upgrade programme, added:

“To ensure any disruption is kept to a minimum, the work required to upgrade the lights is where possible being done alongside existing maintenance work to reduce the impact of this of our activities on the travelling public, local communities and businesses.”

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

Other benefits of LED lighting include:

  • less energy required and cheaper to run
  • lower failure rate meaning fewer road closures and improved safety for roadworkers

It also minimises obtrusive light by reducing:

  • light falling where it's not intended or needed
  • excessive brightness, or glare that causes visual discomfort
  • the unnecessary brightening of the night sky

The LED Upgrade Programme forms a key part of our ambition to reduce corporate emissions to net zero by 2030.

Find out more about our LED Lighting programme

Learn more about our Net Zero plan.