THE FIRST bat friendly street lights in the UK are about to be switched on in Worcestershire.
The LED lights, which emit a red light, provide a bat friendly crossing of approximately 60m in width across the A4440, close to Warndon Wood nature reserve and are due to become active this month.
This project, which is a collaboration between Worcestershire County Council and Jacobs, is an innovative approach to a much-needed highway crossing with a greatly reduced impact on local wildlife.
Research shows some species of bat are light shy and will not cross roads lit by white lights, which can stop them accessing food supplies and water.
Bright street lights also attract the flies and insects the bats feed on, and so reduce the food available for bats and other mammals in their typical feeding areas. The wildlife friendly lights are red in colour and use a unique ‘recipe’ of light which does not affect bats and their flying and feeding habits.
With the red lights, the bats behave normally, feeding and moving through their habitats, just as they would in the dark. This helps to balance the local ecosystem.
Similar lighting schemes in the Netherlands have proved successful, helping to preserve bat species and other nocturnal wildlife. In Eindhoven a new housing complex has been built with the bat friendly lighting in place, which has provided a valuable safe site for rare species of bats.
The bat friendly lights are being introduced in the Warndon area due to a brand-new controlled crossing being installed.
The lighting scheme is being installed in two phases of work, to ensure the safety of road users. Phase one is now live at the exit from Plantation Drive Roundabout. Phase two will see the full switch on of the controlled crossing and the new, extended carriageway lighting from later this month.
The new crossing is suitable for pedestrians, cyclists and those using mobility scooters and has put in place to improve connectivity between the Worcester Six Business Park, Warndon Villages and the city centre.
Coun Ken Pollock, cabinet member for Economy and Infrastructure said: “These ground-breaking lights are a great example where we have been able to adapt the usual standards to better suit the local environment.
“The crossing itself will very much benefit those traveling between the city centre and the business park. The adapted lighting being used may look a little different at first, but we’d like to assure those using the area at night that the colour of the lights has been through stringent testing and adheres to all safety checks,” he added.
Visibility for drivers and pedestrians is not affected by the red light and the scheme is fully compliant with the required standards. The light ‘recipe’ has been carefully crafted to meet the need of road users and residents, alongside those of the local wildlife.