Money is still set aside for lighting on the bridge in Bennettsbridge, but it has proven difficult to come up with a solution that is acceptable to all of the interested parties, members of Kilkenny County Council’s Callan electoral area were told.
“There are a number of conflicts there,” senior engineer Simon Walton said in response to a query from Cllr Billy Ireland (FG).
With considerations such as the conservation status of the bridge and matters raised by the National Parks and Wildlife Service, for example, “it has proved difficult to come up with a decision that ticks all the boxes,” Mr Walton said.
Pointing out that lighting had been put in place on other bridges, Cllr Ireland replied: “It’s taken years to tick those boxes. We’ll all be dead and gone.” Added Cllr Tom Maher (FG): “It’s a different box you’ll need.”
A lack of public lighting is also a problem in several villages, noted Cllr Matt Doran (FF).
“We have a list and I am afraid it is getting longer every year,” he said, asking whether funds could be diverted from another area of spending.
However, senior engineer Simon Walton pointed out that money for further public lighting was not included in the council’s spending for this year because of budget cutbacks.
“We reduced the level of public lighting maintenance that is being provided in the county earlier this year because the council wasn’t in a position to afford it on a level that had been provided,” he said.
The council spends around e750,000 annually on its existing stock of lighting, he noted, and this has increased since the motorways opened. Although the National Roads Authority covers the cost of motorway lighting, the council must now pay for lighting on the former national roads that were reclassified as regional roads.
“The motorways are over-lit,” Cllr Doran said. “We could take every third light off the motorway and put them in villages.”
Even that would require money to maintain the lights and cover the cost of electricity, however. “If there is to be a substantial upgrade of lighting throughout the county, the funds are going to have to be identified for it,” Mr Walton said.