Have Your Say – Letters of Support for Bridge Lights

Museum Support for Bridge Lights – Having seen the recent planning application be submitted for the new lights to Henley Bridge, I write on behalf of the museum to say that we are in support of this scheme.  The proposed installation of 460 individual lighting nodes will revolutionise the bridge, making it the first sustainably lit bridge on the Thames outside of central London.  On an individual level, the lighting will position the bridge as the centrepiece of the Henley street scene, accentuating its unique five arches and curved road profile while highlighting its mass and intricate architectural details. Moreover, the programmable nature of the nodes, with countless colour options and sequences, will enable captivating lighting events and an annual art light competition for local schools.  The Make Henley Shine project, with its innovative lighting scheme, embodies a transformative vision that will revive the splendour of Henley Bridge while preserving its historical significance. It represents an opportunity to elevate the bridge’s prominence, contribute to the town’s sustainable lighting strategy, and inspire other communities across the United Kingdom.

Steve O’Connor
River & Rowing Museum Director


Dear Sirs,

We are delighted to see that a considered, professional and sustainable plan for lighting one of Henley’s most significant attractions, its Grade 1 listed bridge has been submitted to the local planning authorities. The illuminated boat parade highlighted the gap in the ‘streetscape’ of lights on the Berkshire side and the lights of St Mary’s, the Angel on the Bridge and Thameside on the Oxfordshire side. The lights can only enhance the town’s appeal as a tourist destination which brings trade to the town helping its traders and residents prosper, important in these financially challenging times. It is also noteworthy that Henley’s two premier members’ clubs have endorsed the plan wholeheartedly and, crucially, financially.  We now feel confident that the expertise of the organisations involved in implementing the lights are among the best and no damage to the bridge will ensue. We will be writing to support the application and offer our help to all those involved in making this happen.

John Buxton and Pauline Vahey
Rupert Lane, Henley

  1. Simon Barnett says:

    As a local business owner and long-time resident I was delighted to hear that Make Henley Shine have applied for planning permission.

    I’m counting the days to its approval – it can only be good for the town.

    I can’t wait to see Gary Barlow and Take That launch it in style with a live show on the bridge, showcasing their hit single “Shine”. This should count as one of the ‘special’ occasions when the mayor can flick the ‘multi-coloured’ switch. Of course, the number of these occasions must be limited, as we don’t want the town to become some kind of youth disco.

    I do understand the performance will cause some traffic disruption but I’m sure it won’t be anywhere near as bad as the 4-way lights at the end of the Fair Mile.

    Yours sincerely

    Simon Barnett

  2. Sally Rankin says:

    It is very disappointing that, in this day and age, people are still wanting to do things like put lights on bridges. Given the threats we face due to climate change, everyone should be looking to reduce their electricity use wherever they can. I know the people who are behind the project say they will be using a low energy option but they will still be using electricity unnecessarily. And what about all the electricity (and other resources) used to make all the materials to be used?

    Lights on the bridge will also be more light pollution for Henley with the subsequent effects on wildlife. https://darksky.org/resources/what-is-light-pollution/effects/wildlife-ecosystems/ says ‘Scientific evidence suggests that artificial light at night has negative and deadly effects on many creatures, including amphibians, birds, mammals, insects, and plants.’ Also, according to https://naturalengland.blog.gov.uk/2023/09/29/state-of-nature/, the recently published fourth State of Nature (SON) Report ‘lays bare the stark fact that nature is still seriously declining across the UK, a country that is already one of the most nature-depleted in the world. The data show that since 1970 UK species have declined by about 19% on average, and nearly 1 in 6 species (16.1%) are now threatened with extinction.’ With wildlife in Britain in such serious trouble already we should not be engaging in unnecessary detrimental activities like putting lights on bridges. If anything, the town should be working on reducing light pollution throughout the town.

    The advice on outdoor lighting in ‘Landscape_and_urban_design_for_bats_and_biodiversityweb.pdf, a publication from the Bat Conservation Trust, should be followed at all times. In the section on the management and enhancement of river bank habitats they say ‘Restrict or remove artificial lighting from river footpaths as many bat species associated with water, such as Daubenton’s bat, avoid light.’ In the section on riparian corridors, they say ‘Water networks in the form of rivers, streams, canals and irrigation ditches are often used by bats as navigation features in the environment. Care should be taken not to artificially light these features. Where lighting is necessary for operational reasons the lighting should only be used when needed.’

  3. David Dickie says:

    May 29th Springwatch. Chris Peckham clearly indicates that lights are harmful to insects and moths which has an onward impact on birds etc. To help nature, turn them off.


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