Then vs now: Photos show how much LED lights have changed Christchurch’s nightscape – Stuff

March 3, 2022 by No Comments

christchurch city council

Light pollution from Christchurch city has dramatically reduced after the council installed 29,500 LED lights. The top photo shows the before view and the lower is after.

Christchurch’s nightscape has transformed from a glaring orange mass to a smattering of fairy lights in the distance.

Light pollution coming from the city has drastically reduced since Christchurch City Council started replacing its traditional street lights with LED lights in 2012.

It appears the new lights are also benefiting insects, after a four-year study found the LEDs attracted fewer insects than the old lights.

“It means more insects are going about the things they would normally do rather than flying around the lights exhausting themselves,” Michelle Greenwood, a fresh water ecologist at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa), said.

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“The fewer insects attracted to lights the better.”

More than 29,500 street lights across Christchurch have been converted to LEDs since 2012 and the remaining 6000 lights would be done by mid-2024, council head of transport Lynette Ellis said.

There has been some criticism of the new LEDs with some residents complaining about the harsher light, but the LEDs were more energy efficient, lasted longer and required less maintenance, Ellis said.

Michelle Greenwood

The difference between the old orange lights and the LED streetlights is obvious on this city street.

About $26 million has been spent converting the lights, with Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) fronting up with $21.8m and the council the remaining $4.2m.

In 2017 NZTA started providing an 85 per cent subsidy to encourage councils to switch from the old sodium lamps to LED.

An LED lamp lasts 20 years, while the old lamps last only four.

Ellis said the council was saving $1.5m in each year with the LEDs and the city’s carbon footprint had reduced by more than 1150 tonnes annually.

The city’s streetscape had changed dramatically because the LED lights direct all their light in a downward direction, meaning there was less light spill into the surrounding environment and the night sky compared with the older forms of street lighting.

Michelle Greenwood

The stark difference between the new LED lights (in the foreground) and the old orange lights on Christchurch streets in 2018.

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