A TEN year £1 million programme to improve and upgrade footway lighting in rural areas has been set out by Eden District Council.

For over a year, the authority has been working with parish and town councils to develop a long-term solution to the provision of footway lighting in rural areas.

It followed the Electricity North West Ltd announcement in 2011 that it would be removing footway lights from their electricity transmission poles. This was due to potential liabilities following the tragic death of a BT linesman who was electrocuted while repairing telephone equipment sited on a pole.

In Eden, there are 1,581 footway lights, 681 of which are situated on telegraph poles. Replacing this lighting stock would cost the authority more than £1 million over a ten-year upgrade.

The council estimates that 526 footway lights meet this criteria. A number of footway lights on main roads will be offered to Cumbria County Council and lights on social housing will be offered to Eden Housing Association to maintain.

The remaining 892 lights, which do not meet this criteria, could under the district council proposals continue to be maintained by the authority until they need replacing or they are taken down by Electricity North West Limited or are adopted by other parties such as parish councils.

Coun Mike Tonkin, Eden District Council’s environment portfolio holder, said: “A great deal of hard work is being done to find the most sustainable and affordable solution for the provision of footway lighting.“

As part of the recommendations, the final report to the council on February 20 will seek to allocate £100,000 for capital works on footway lighting in 2014/15. This would be the first year of a ten year programme.

“We would also seek to transfer responsibility for a further 112 lights to the county council.”

Meanwhile Penrith and the Border MP Rory Stewart has pressed for the council to take the lead on using innovative, smart LED lighting solutions to help to reduce the lighting costs in the area.