A six-month programme to upgrade more than 18,000 street lights across Somerset and cut energy bills in half will start later this month.

Somerset County Council plans to replace around one third of all its street lights with greener, more efficient and Dark Sky approved LED technology.

As each new light will use around 53 per cent less energy, the initial capital investment of £3.6 million should be paid back in less than seven years.

Cllr David Fothergill, Somerset County Council’s cabinet member for highways, said: “This is a significant investment but one that makes sense on every level.

“The new street lights will use considerably less energy which means they are better for the environment and drastically reduce running costs – so the investment will pay for itself in a relatively short space of time.

“They’re also Dark Sky approved, reducing light pollution by directing the light on the street where you need it, rather than being lost into the night sky.”

Somerset County Council already has a policy of replacing expired or damaged street lights with LEDs and there are currently around 6,500 across Somerset.

This latest contract will see a further 18,148 lamps replaced between September and March 2017 at locations all across the county where the existing street light columns are suitable for upgrading to LEDs.

A further bid for capital funding is also in progress which if successful would see the rollout of more LEDs in future.

Daren Bowden, regional director for SSE Enterprise, said: “As the UK’s largest street lighting contractor, SSE Enterprise is committed to promoting the many benefits that LED technology brings to both the environment through reducing CO2 and light pollution but also the social benefits through increased quality of lighting.

“We’re proud to be working in partnership with Somerset County Council to deliver this forward thinking step change towards LED street lighting.”