Feature, Outdoor, Street, Transport

The future’s orange: City considers amber street lights

George Street in Dunedin with high pressure sodium lighting in orange. If campaigners have their way, the town could return to orange lighting…with LEDs

AS LOCAL authorities all over the world move to white LED street lighting, one community at least is considering bucking the trend.

The city of Dunedin, the second largest on the south island of New Zealand, is exploring the possibility of installing amber LED lighting which will look similar to the current low-pressure sodium lighting.

City councillors have watched a demonstration of amber LED and will now have to decide on whether to choose white or amber in the coming months. The authority has set aside NZ$12million (USD$8.8 million, EUR 7.1 million) for the 10-year LED street lighting programme.

The decision comes at a time of heightened concern about the possible deleterious effects of white LED street lights on wellbeing. This week, the UK government’s health watchdog for England, Public Health England, was moved to dampen news reports about glare and the effect of blue light from LED street lights on the retina.

Leading the push for amber LEDs in Dunedin is local Dark Skies Group member Michael Broughton, who campaigns against light pollution.

Broughton wants the council to explore the use of amber instead of white, as it has a ‘much lower effect on humans, wildlife and the night sky’.

Broughton said since the council had decided to upgrade to LED there had been research published which outlined the negative effect white LEDs could possibly have on human health.

There was also a debate as to whether white LEDs obscured the stars at night, he said. Broughton said the council should be applauded for its moves to make Dunedin a so-called dark skies city but it should be careful not to rush and install a light which could have a negative effect.

Broughton emphasised that there was no perfect choice, as all LED coloured lights had downsides as well.

If Dunedin does adopt amber LED street lights it will be following in the footsteps of Flagstaff in the American state of Arizona.

Flagstaff made the transition to amber LEDs in a bid to minimise light pollution.



  • The Safer Cities conference will focus on lighting as a tool to improve security and well being in urban communities. It takes place on Wednesday 13 November and Thursday 14 November 2018 at the LuxLive 2018 exhibition at ExCeL London. Entry is free to those with urban lighting estates. More information HERE.