WORK has begun to replace all of Bournemouth’s 16,500 street lights to make them more energy efficient.

The £7million upgrade, which is being carried out over the next few months, will see 15,000 lanterns, 1,100 columns and lanterns and 500 illuminated bollards fitted with low energy modern light emitting diode (LED) fittings.

Bournemouth Borough Council, which currently spends £1.1m a year on street lighting energy, said the new lights would better conserve energy, reduce the town’s carbon footprint and deliver efficiency savings of £32.2million over the next 20 years.

Cllr Michael Filer, portfolio holder for transport, said: “This is a huge programme of improvement works which will benefit the whole town.

“Our lighting network is ageing and in need of modernising and I am delighted that work is now beginning on this upgrade.

He added: “The work will take some months to complete but once installed the new lights will lead to a 73 per cent energy saving in current street lighting consumption which equates to large environmental and financial savings.”

The council said the LED fittings will emit a crisper and white light and will make street lighting brighter compared to the existing lights.

The works, which are being carried out by SSE Contracting, will see the 500 illuminated bollards around the town replaced first.

The lantern programme is expected to start later in the spring.

The project is being funded through £4.26million from Salix, a government energy projects funding provider, with the remaining £3.5million coming from the council.

The council is warning that in a small number of cases roads may be closed off for a short period to enable contractors to get the work done.

In such cases the council will use the temporary closure to carry out other maintenance tasks such as repairing potholes, line painting and gully clearing.