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Byron Shire
March 4, 2021

Butler St caught in the glare of Byron bypass lights

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‘The lights are that high they light up inside my house like a tennis court. If that’s not invasive I don’t know what is.’

Paul Bibby

Have you ever stayed in a cheap motel where the streetlights shone straight through the bedroom window?

That’s what life has apparently been like for some residents around Butler Street since new, high-powered streetlights were installed, as part of the Byron Bypass project.

And it appears that the brutal lighting is a result of rigid design rules imposed by Essential Energy, and the specifications of the Australian Standard.

Byron councillor Jan Hackett (Labor) is attempting to address the situation, putting forward a motion that Council ‘reappraise the number of streetlights and strength of wattage used in the residential area of the bypass’.

But Council staff have cast doubt over the financial viability of such a move in light of the relevant rules.

‘They [the lights] are completely invasive,’ according to one resident, quoted in Cr Hackett’s notice of motion for this week’s full Council meeting.

‘I am in the back lane, one house back from Butler St, the lights are that high they light up inside my house like a tennis court, above the trees, above any houses.

‘If that’s not invasive I don’t know what is.’

Multiple complaints

Cr Hackett said this was one of many complaints Council had received.

‘Other complainants spoke about their inability to sleep under such invasive lighting and its impact on their health,’ Cr Hackett said in her notice of motion.

‘While Essential Energy determined the wattage appropriate to be either 150W or 200W, later communications identified 100W would also be appropriate.

‘150W have been used and these are appropriate for the bus depot and park stretch. However, it does seem highly invasive for a residential area. The lights are designed for a major highway, rather than a small bypass.

‘Given the amount of lighting designed for the bus depot and railway station precinct, together with these highway lights running along both sides of Butler Street as far as Glen Haven, residents in that vicinity indeed have an argument.’

Cr Hacket questioned whether staff might be able to reappraise the strength and number of the lights running beside Butler Street homes, installing 100W lights or adjusting the height and direction of the lights.

Too expensive to change?

In a response to the concerns, Council’s client representative for the Byron Bypass, Joshua Winter, said Council had commissioned the design of the street lighting to be in accordance with the Australian Standard for a sub-arterial road, and had chosen the category with the lowest category of lighting allowed.

‘Initially, because Essential Energy did not have a standard LED luminaire selection table, the designer nominated a 200W product as a trial that was agreed with Essential Energy,’ Mr Winter said.

‘Once these were installed, it became apparent that the level of lighting was overdesigned and the project team then undertook a design check to determine the lowest level of lighting that would satisfy V5 category on the bypass.’

‘The nominated supplier and product… Sylvania Road LED, has luminaires in varying strengths, including 80W, 100W, 120W, 150W.  The project team determined that the lowest luminaire that would satisfy V5 category is 100W, however, unfortunately Essential Energy only allow 80W or 150W to be specified and this forced the project team to specify 150W luminaires.’

Mr Winter said that for 80W lights to be compliant, the location of the lanterns would need to be changed, and more lanterns used to achieve the same level of light.

‘Numerous approaches by Council and the public have been made to Essential Energy to allow 100W luminaires, but no concession has been made,’ he said.

‘Staff have advised Essential Energy that there is insufficient budget for the project to pay for 100W lanterns, because we were already forced to purchase 150W lanterns. If Essential Energy revoke a previous decision, they will be required to fund the new 100W lanterns.’

Council has sourced a gadget that reduces light spill and one that changes the angle of the lantern to face the light directly downward.

These are yet to be installed, but will reportedly be put in prior to completion of the project.

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