ICONIC Penshaw Monument will remain shrouded in darkness after its old floodlights were removed two months ago and bad weather prevented workmen from gaining access to replace them.
Sunderland City Council says it does not yet have a date for when the state-of the art colour-changing LED lights promised last year, will be switched on.
The recent snow and icy conditions has made the ground vulnerable to damage by heavy machinery, while making access to the Grade I listed monument potentially dangerous for workers.
The decision to remove the old lights, which were deemed no longer fit for purpose, was taken by the planning committee last September and work on dismantling them took place in December.
Coun Michael Mordey, portfolio holder for City Services, said: “Following the required extensive surveying and licensing applications work to replace the lighting system around Penshaw Monument began before Christmas.
“However, due to the recent poor weather conditions it has been necessary to put the work on hold.
“We will continue to monitor the situation and as soon as there is an opportunity to get vehicles and equipment on-site without causing damage to the surrounding natural environment work will resume.”
In a response to a request under the Freedom of Information Act on website whatdotheyknow.com, the council said: “It was intended to commence works in April last year with the installation of new energy-efficient colour change LED lighting around the monument, however planning approval, National Trust (the land and monument owners) approvals and the availability of the contractor’s resources resulted in significant delays. Limited works involving the removal of the existing lights were carried out in December 2014.
“The next stage of the installation works, has been delayed due to the bad weather as the ground conditions make it extremely difficult to drive plant up the hill without damaging the ground or risking the health and safety of the contractor’s operatives. Once the ground conditions are more receptive to their machinery and it is safe to do so, installation works will commence.”
The new lights will enable the monument to light up in different colours for events and could turn it red and white on match days. After an initial outlay of £43,000, the new system will reduce energy costs by up to 80 per cent and save about £8,000 a year in running costs.
The new lights are dimmable, enabling the intensity of the lights to be turned down between midnight and 6am.