THOUSANDS of lighting columns on North Yorkshire's highways are "structurally unsound", according to a new report.

Mike Moore, director of environmental services for North Yorkshire County Council, says in the report that up to 40 per cent of the county's 20,000 concrete street lighting columns are affected and do not provide lighting levels to adequate standards.

He adds that the columns waste energy due to ineffective lamps and control gear, and need increasing maintenance.

The report, for the authority's transport scrutiny committee, says the council is now carrying out schemes aimed at reducing energy consumption and replacing old and inefficient mercury lanterns.

The new lamps will use 50 per cent less energy and provide between 30 and 40 per cent better lighting.

Mr Moore says the replacement of 20,000 concrete lighting columns with a more efficient, robust infrastructure needs a significant investment from the council.

"The introduction of a ten year, £10m budget will allow the council to replace two thirds of its aged columns by 2014," he said.

The report says the new street lighting helps to combat light pollution because it incorporates a full cut-off flat glass lantern that minimises light spillage.