STREETLIGHTS across North Yorkshire have gone green after 50,400 of them were replaced with energy saving LED lights at a cost of £8m.

Replacing all the county council's lights was due to take five years but the county council has revealed lighting engineers cut two years off the work which is due to bring maintenance savings of £1.285m a year.

"Against a backdrop of spiralling energy costs and ever-rising inflationary pressures, modernising our streetlights had become essential," said County Councillor Don Mackenzie, Executive Member for Access

"When the decision was taken to make a substantial investment in converting all the county council’s street lights from incandescent to LED, we were confident of getting a 100 per cent return within ten years. However, our street lighting team and maintenance contractor, Ringway, made such rapid progress we are realising the benefits of this project much sooner as we delivered the programme early and under budget," he added.

They're now working with town and parish councils to convert their streetlights. The conversion is also helping to reduce the county's carbon footprint and played a major part in the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors National Parks being awarded International Dark Sky Reserve status.

Engineering Manager Paul Gilmore, a keen astronomer said they were keen to help in the dark sky bid. He added: "It was an easy thing for us to do and as there were no extra costs associated with the warmer tone lights we were happy to get on board and do our bit to help."

In the parks light fittings are installed with a shield directing the light beam downwards to reduce light pollution, which was crucial to securing the dark sky status. The parks are home to some of the darkest skies in the country, with large areas of unpolluted night sky where it's possible to see thousands of stars, the Milky Way, meteors and even the Northern Lights.

Cllr Mackenzie added: "This programme, combined with the fact we also turn off many street lights between midnight and 5am, will lead to marked reductions in our carbon footprint, in fact it's the biggest single factor so far to securing the Council’s ambition of achieving carbon neutral status by 2030."

The light scheme investment is due to be paid back in savings in eight years.