WILTSHIRE Council has denied that its £12.2 million project to install energy-saving LED street lighting will be harmful to human health and wildlife.

The council rejected claims that replacing more than 45,000 street lights in Wiltshire with brighter LED lights will lead to cancers, psychological disorders and premature births.

Campaigner Mark Baker, of Soft Lights in the United States of America, says natural night is a fundamental resource that is critical to the proper functioning of nearly all biological systems, including humans, plants, birds, insects and fish.

He added: “Polluting the natural night with artificial light greatly damages the resource and is leading to large increases in cancer, psychological disorders and premature births.

“It has been well known since at least 2016 that artificial light, especially high colour temperature LED lights with large spikes of blue wavelength light, is dangerous to human health.

“Throwing artificial light into the natural night resource is no different than throwing sewage into the river, or smoke into the air. We must protect the natural night as we would any other resource.”

Sam Fox, Wiltshire Council's corporate director for place and environment, said: “We are not aware of any credible research linking LED lighting to public health concerns.

“LEDs produce more blue light than traditional street lighting but it is a tiny fraction of the amount in natural daylight and does not have any detrimental effect on people.

"Research indicates that light exposure needs to be very high in order to disrupt sleep patterns. Typical street lighting levels are less than light levels normally found in the home and the use of handheld phones, tablets and computers are likely to have a greater impact on sleep.

“The LED lighting uses considerably less energy than older types of lighting and significantly reduces the council’s carbon footprint.”

Mr Baker says radiation from LED lights can be divided into two groups: ionizing and non-ionizing, adding: “When we speak of radiation poisoning, we are typically referring to ionizing radiation. However, non-ionizing radiation can also damage a biological system, including humans.

“The toxicity of the non-ionizing radiation depends on the intensity, duration and frequency of exposure. Irradiating your residents with high energy wavelengths over the course of the entire night is exposing the residents to long durations, high intensity, and repeated frequency. In other words, the cellular damage will be significant and long-term.

“If this situation involved ionizing radiation, I have no doubt that the council would act immediately to stop the source of the radiation. We urge the council to act just as responsibly with non-ionizing radiation." “Turn off the LED street lights to stop the radiation poisoning straight away."

Wiltshire Council started work on the two-year LED street lighting project in Chippenham and the surrounding area in October 2019. Most street lights have now been upgraded in Amesbury, Devizes, Melksham, Salisbury and Westbury. The remaining areas of the county will be completed this year.