Work will begin in the new year on a £25million project to modernise all street lighting in Northumberland, the county council has said.
The authority has announced that it has appointed Galliford Try Infrastructure Limited, part of the national house building and construction group, to deliver the scheme.
This will involve fitting new eco-friendly LED lantern units to all 46,000 street lighting columns and replacing nearly 17,000 of the columns.
Work is expected to start in February 2015 in Ashington, and will be rolled out across the county over three years.
The LED lantern units will significantly reduce light pollution, slash energy and maintenance costs and cut carbon emissions.
As with many similar authorities, Northumberland has seen a big increase in street lighting energy costs over recent years, along with the introduction of the Carbon Tax.
A significant proportion of the lighting stock in the county is relatively old and inefficient. The current street lights are using excessive energy compared to modern units and cost more to maintain.
The council has secured funding on an Invest to Save basis. This funding will be repaid over 25 years from the anticipated budget savings.
Coun Ian Swithenbank, policy board member for streetcare and environment, said: “I’m very pleased that work will soon begin on this huge modernisation project which will have such clear benefits for residents.
“We expect to make savings of more than 50 per cent in both the energy and maintenance costs as the new LED street lights typically use around half the energy of the current street lights, and with the new technology lasting longer, there will only be minimal maintenance required.”
The project will be delivered over a three year period through a joint venture with Galliford Try Infrastructure Limited. The contractor will have responsibility for design during the duration of the project.
The contractor will also work with the council to develop a programme of works for the project that will be published on the council website and updated as the project progresses.
Matthew Burke, highway maintenance director of Galliford Try Infrastructure, said: “Following the award of the phase one design contract in May 2014, we have been working closely with our new partners at Northumberland County Council to introduce further efficiencies to the project.
“We have ensured that using our vast knowledge and experience in this sector, that we are using the most up-to-date and efficient technology available.
“We are now looking forward to commencing the phase two delivery contract of this project that will undoubtedly benefit the county of Northumberland for many years to come.”
The county council will be working closely with Galliford Try to ensure residents are well informed about the timing and the nature of the column and lamp-replacement work.
Residents will receive a letter well before work is due to start in their area and there will be notices on lighting columns when the work is imminent. Information on the street lighting project, including a frequently asked questions section, will be available on the Northumberland County Council website.