National Highways National Highways LED replacement

LED streetlights on a main road at night
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Supporting National Highway's Net Zero Strategy 

The LED replacement strategy is a key strand of National Highway’s (NH) ambitious net zero strategy with the North West being given the task to act as pathfinders for the wider national programme which Amey were hugely involved with forging the path.

To meet its stretching target, the team adopted a collaborative approach working closely with NH and other delivery partners to maximise effectiveness and to deliver at pace while minimising cost and disruption.

Developing a clear plan and joint vision was critical to the project’s success and shared expertise allowed for the best use of existing frameworks as well as new approaches where necessary. Results were impressive with 1,000 new state-of-the-art LED luminaires installed in a single financial year ensuring carbon reduction savings of 60% through a combination of LED’s and efficient design.

With LED luminaires reducing carbon consumption the environmental benefits are clear. But this ground-breaking project also delivered significant cost savings as well as wider social and environmental benefits including improved road safety, reduced light pollution and valuable work experience for apprentices from each partner organisation.

The challenge

National Highways’ LED Replacement Strategy is the biggest ever LED light installation programme and a key element of its Net Zero Highways plan. NH is investing £132m to retrofit over 46,200 lights before March 2027. Currently only 26% of the 105,000 lights on the NH Network are LED and the retrofit will increase this to over 70%.

The Amey street lighting team were an integral part of the process by leading on the design and advising on key decisions. Collaboration was critical to rising to this unparalleled challenge and Amey brought together the NH National LED Project Team, NH North West Regional Team, its own Designer and two operational delivery partners - Crown Highways and J McCann Ltd – to create the best knowledge and skills set for the project.

National Highways’ Net Zero Highways plan provides a roadmap for cutting carbon emissions from road construction, maintenance and operations by 2050 and sets challenging targets across the whole range of NH activities. It includes staged, measurable commitments for 2030 and 2040 along with interim deadlines along the way. Switching 70% of its network lights to LED by 2027 is an early priority.

This challenging target is set against a background of a changing procurement landscape for asset maintenance and management across the whole of the NH network along with legacy issues with inaccurate asset data, historic switch-off policies and an aging cabling infrastructure. The scale of this challenge means that it could only be achieved through a truly collaborative approach.

While in 2022 many NH regions had Scheme Delivery Framework contracts in their infancy and newly appointed contractors, the North West Region had an established Construction Works Framework (CWF) contract in place. This provided the best opportunity to pilot an LED Replacement Strategy that could form the basis of a wider national approach.

Our approach

The North West Region contains 28.75% of the entire NH lighting asset and when the target was announced only 12% of those 27,000 assets were LED. This provided the perfect opportunity to deliver high impact LED replacement schemes in the North West to really start to attack the target.

While the wider NH National LED Team was being formed and establishing a baseline, the North West team was up and running and working to identify a streamlined solution to meet the target whilst still following NH policies and governance.

Our joint objective was to identify, survey, design and install 1,000 state-of-the-art LED luminaires in the 2022/23 financial year. Close collaboration building on established relationships was critical, as was a sharp focus on our goal.

The North West team quickly developed a plan to review the current state of the lighting asset across the region, allowing us to identify risks and opportunities to inform our strategy. Weekly face-to-face Engagement Meetings were used as to share ideas, establish a clear vision and to ensure a robust approach. These face-to-face sessions were also used to document our delivery strategy with a view to a national roll out.

Each team member had a clearly defined role to play in ensuring that the project got off to a good start. Team members and rolls comprised:

  •  NH North West Team – Led on identifying routes to be surveyed and ensuring the right governance was in place to secure funding.
  • Crown & McCann – Established a collaborative approach to surveying, data capture, shared methods of working and outputs and led on collaboration with LED supplier Holophane.
  • Amey – Created design solutions to enable simple retrofit options to be deployed, ensuring all required standards were met.

A bespoke funding stream was established for the project and the team committed to delivering the full 1,000 luminaire target whilst ensuring all assets were fully compliant, structurally sound, electrically safe and had a fully working central management system (CMS). A strong team spirit was evident from the outset and critical to the project’s success.

In particular, this collaborative approach was fundamental to overcoming key challenges including:

  • Accessing the national funding allocation – the project was delivered from a newly established funding stream requiring
    Lack of accurate asset data – the national lighting asset has legacy data issues, requiring all assets to be surveyed ‘from scratch’
  • Design timescales – traditional lighting design timescales needed to be significantly condensed
  • Procurement of LED luminaires – ensuring alignment with our tight delivery timescales, devising a packaging strategy to simplify distribution and installation, and securing advance purchase orders from NH for the required units
  • Network availability – working closely with NH and our Construction Works Framework (CWF) delivery partners allowed us to take advantage of existing closures


Results for this project were impressive both in terms of achieving its ambitious net zero goals and in the wider benefits it delivered for both road users and NH. A total carbon reduction of 65% was accompanied by key safety benefits including improved visibility for road users. A lower failure rate will also mean fewer sections of road being unlit. For NH, reduced maintenance will deliver cost savings and the CMS, including automatic defect identification, will improve repair times and give greater control. In addition, the more directional luminescence associated with the LED solution reduces ‘light bleed’ into adjacent properties and reduces light pollution.

In addition, our collaborative approach - incorporating team values of mutual respect and trust - was key to challenging norms and to delivering time and cost savings. New approaches included working with delivery partners to access existing closures and streamlining activity with and sharing Traffic Management (TM) with other schemes. Full adherence to the NH LED road map ensured structural integrity and electrical compliance as well as safety and wider customer benefits.

The project also delivered wider social benefits. These included valuable work experience for apprentices from each partner in the project and promoting the circular economy. All LED luminaires are UK manufactured.

The pioneering approach piloted in the North West has now been replicated across the Midlands Region. Here, the North West r project process documents and templates to informing the Midlands delivery strategy.


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