Claims for injuries due to defective street lighting have increased in Northern Ireland according to the province´s Infrastructure minister Chris Hazzard.
Mr Hazzard was responding to an Assembly question from East Belfast UUP MLA Andy Allen when the minister revealed that there were sixteen claims made against the Department of Infrastructure last year in which defective street lighting was primary responsible for an injury being sustained.
Settlement of the claims for injuries due to defective street lighting amounted to £59,000 – a fifteen-fold increase from two years ago when there were just three claims settled. The figure represented a three-fold increase from 2014/15, when twelve claims for injuries caused by defective street lighting were settled.
The minister said there may be other claims made against the Department of Infrastructure in which defective street lighting was a contributory factor, but it was not possible to identify these in the department´s database. The minister also agreed that the figures related only to compensation settlements, and that there may be other legal and administrative costs to account for as well.
Defective street lighting is a hot topic of debate in the Northern Ireland Assembly. In 2015, members of the Assembly raised concerns about the number of complaints relating to defective street lighting they were receiving from their constituents. It was found that 17,888 street lights were not working and that around a third of all the province´s street lights were turned off at night to save money.
More than £2 million was spent fixing the defective street lighting, and a further £1 million was added to the department´s budget in June for investment in cost-saving LED street lighting. The minister said that of 48,000 street light outages reported over the last 12 months, 42,500 have already been repaired. The replacement of the existing street lighting with LED lights is an ongoing project that is expected to conclude next year.