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Donegal to LIGHT the way this week with solar powered public lighting

24 December, 2008

Donegal Sinn Féin Senator and Transport Spokesperson Pearse Doherty has announced that the first ever solar powered public lighting scheme is due to be switched on this week. The pilot scheme includes 15 solar panel lights on the N56 at Meenacuing in Gweedore.  

Speaking today Senator Doherty said,  

“I am delighted that when the 15 solar panel lights on the N56 at Meenacuing in Gweedore are switched on, which is due this weekend, that Donegal will be the first to lead the way in the state in relational to environmentally friendly public lighting. There are many benefits that will come from this pilot scheme, along with providing the residents of this stretch of road with much needed public lighting I believe that this pilot project will lead to greater things.

“It is over a year ago that I announced that such a scheme was to go ahead and while this was met with political opposition at the time from some of the other parties, I am glad that they have seen the light and are now in support of such a scheme. At a time when Donegal County Council is forced to lay off hundreds of its employees and reduce its services to the public as a result of government cutbacks it is crazy that the council is paying the ESB up to one million euro each year to power our existing public lights in the county when the technology is there to power these lights from the sun, free of charge.  

"Under existing National Roads Authority policy this section of road would not normally qualify for public lighting. However, after much lobbying from Sinn Féin and others the National Roads Design Office sourced a form of solar powered lighting that they were keen to pilot. Having secured agreement from the Networks Section of the NRA to install these lights on the N56 at Meenacuing and on a section of the N13 Derry to Letterkenny route the poles have been erected and the solar panel light heads are expected to be placed on them this weekend.

Senator Doherty added:  

"Sinn Féin is keen to see the success of solar powered lighting in Ireland as this could go some way to improving road safety. Due to costs involved in lighting our roads the NRA policy restricts public lighting outside speed limits except the in the case of junctions of National and Regional roads, Roundabouts and slip roads to or from motorways and dual carriageways and lastly to locations which have a proven darkness related accident history.  

"If solar powered lighting can provide the standard of light required for public lighting then it is most welcome as it is an energy efficient source of light. However, if this type of lighting could be successfully introduced throughout the country then vast amounts of money could be saved by local authorities which could then be re-directed into other projects such as improving road standards." ENDS

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