A PROGRAMME to replace street lighting across Hampshire is set to save taxpayers money after the next phase of the Government’s carbon tax scheme was launched.

Hampshire County Council is currently undertaking a project to replace over 150,000 street lights across Hampshire in a bid to reduce their energy costs and cut carbon emissions by 20 per cent, by 2015.

Since 2012, councils have had to pay £12 for every ton of carbon they emit, including the heating and lighting for public buildings, as part of the Government’s commitment to carbon savings and energy efficiency.

However, from April 1, the tax has risen to £16 per ton, and for the first time it will include street lighting. But thanks to the replacement programme which was launched in April 2010, the county council is set to save £140,000 a year in carbon tax.

The saving was welcomed by Councillor Mel Kendal, Hampshire County Council’s executive member for income and capital receipts.

Cllr Kendal said: “We are on track to achieve our 20 per cent carbon reduction target by 2015. This is part of our energy strategy that aims to help Hampshire reduce the risks of future energy security and affordability, and contribute to a sustainable low-carbon economy throughout Hampshire – all of which will save the taxpayer money.”

He added: “The positive steps we have already taken to cut our energy use will help us to lower our energy bills in future, and plough those savings back into providing local services to the people of Hampshire.”

In January, Cllr Kendal endorsed a £1.4million investment into an energy performance programme that will save taxpayers a further £200,000 a year by making 25 of the council’s top energy-consuming buildings more efficient. The scheme is set to save the local authority £5m in energy bills over the next 25 years.

Hampshire County Council is also testing the feasibility of a district energy scheme after it was awarded £144,000 of Government funding to develop the project.

If the scheme is successful, it would generate electricity and heat and could reduce energy bills for the council by around £4million over 25 years as well as reducing carbon emissions and improve energy resilience.