Works on replacing old sodium public light by new more energy-efficient and longer-life LED lighting is expected to start in County Sligo in the third or fourth quarter of this year.
But in the meantime, although a budget of €100,000 has been provided for public lighting this year, the council cannot confirm if it will be sufficient to cover the energy and maintenance costs of current public lighting.
The issue of public lighting arose at this week’s March meeting of the county council when Fine Gael Councillor Thomas Walsh asked for an update a proposed Public Lighting Scheme that he said was agreed during the budget discussions last December.
Council Director of Services Tom Kilfeather told Cllr Walsh the council’s roads section didn’t have an opportunity to consider the matter since the budget meeting.
He said the council’s current priority in respect of public lighting is the National Public Light Replacement Programme, which involves an agreement with Mayo County Council.
Mr Kilfeather said any information that would help in bringing forward a lighting scheme would be welcome.
However, he cautioned about finances allowing a scheme going ahead this year because of a significant overspend in 2019.
Mr Kilfeather pointed out that it cost between €5,000 and €7,000 to put up a light.
Councillors also heard that in the last four years, more than 1,000 additional lights have been added to the council’s stock as a result of taking areas in charge, and this had also led to significant extra costs.
Council Chief Executive Ciaran Hayes said the council will implement Cllr Walsh’s motion but he said they must do it in a planned way.
The council also had to prioritise work.
He said the council get motions every month but it cannot change a work programme every month.
During the debate councillors spoke about the lack of public lighting in some rural areas.
Sinn Fein Councillor Thomas Healy said people had paid for services in rural areas but they were not getting the service.
Mr Hayes said there will be considerable energy savings when the council rolled out LED lights, which will replace the old sodium lamps.
The lighting upgrade in Sligo will cost in the region of €4m, which the council will have to borrow and pay back over seven to eight years. The cost would be considerable and would be a major investment.
‘We will seek to implement the motion but there are limitations in relation to finance,’ he said.
Meanwhile, Cllr Walsh insists he will press ahead with his motion for public lighting to be provided in rural areas, such as in Ballygawley, where, he said, there are new footpaths but no public lights.