SWITCHING to energy efficient bulbs has halved Oldham’s carbon dioxide emissions and saved £400,000, a town hall meeting was told.

But they have decided not to go ahead with a plan to change all lighting to LED in the next five years.

The majority of energy efficient bulbs in the borough are not LED. But Liberal Democrat councillors wanted the borough to make a commitment to completely switch over to LED lighting by December 2022.

In December the full council agreed to explore a motion by the Liberal Democrat group.

But in an update to the performance and value for money committee, street lighting manager John McAuley explained it would cost the council £6.5 million to replace all the lighting with LED.

And it would take 15 years for the energy savings to add up to pay back the cost, he said.

He told members that through the council’s private finance initiative (PFI) contract for lighting they already use LEDs for illuminated bollards, signs, subway lighting and 1,600 street lights.

“Our replacement programme has replaced 80 pc of the street lighting with energy efficient lighting, so we already have energy efficient lighting,” he said.

“Over the past two years we have actually saved on our energy £400,000 and over five years we’ve halved our Co2, from 6,000 tonnes to just over 3,000 tonnes.

“What our service provider are proposing is for all future new developments to use LED lighting but that would be at no cost to the council.”

To propose a faster timetable of LED upgrades would be putting the financial risk back onto the council, Mr McAuley said.

Instead of following the council motion, his recommendation would be to keep the existing provision through the PFI contact, rather than to put any more cash into making the lights more efficient.

“We have already spent a considerable amount of money upgrading the street lighting, plus in year 2023/24 the other 20 pc of lighting columns are due to be replaced, so they’ll be replaced with LED at no cost to ourselves,” he said.

“As regards Co2 emissions and energy consumption, I think there is quite good provision in what the PFI have already got.”

Chair of the meeting, Cllr Riaz Ahmad, said: “We seem to be doing very well when it comes to LED lights, from what you have described we are quite ahead of the game.”

The committee agreed to remain within the current terms of the PFI contract, by which the bulbs would be upgraded as part of the regular maintenance programme for street lighting.

It is estimated that switching all street lights to LED would save councils more than £200 million and prevent over 600,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from being emitted into the atmosphere every year.