Surrey’s 89,000 street lights could be swapped for money-saving LED bulbs, after the cabinet agreed to the change in principle.

A business plan for the £18.5 million work will be presented in the autumn, after the council has worked out the details.

Cabinet member with responsibility for Highways Colin Kemp said he expects LED would save approximately £2 million a year based on current energy prices.

Council leader David Hodge said: “I personally am very worried when I see the figures of the costs of electricity. I think we have no option but to look into this in detail, and I’m looking forward to seeing the results.”

Cllr Kemp will now begin to look at other new technology, like motion sensors, that could be integrated into a new system.

But he told cabinet about the number of emails he gets about the “environmental benefit” of lights in residential streets being turned off at night, so it is unclear whether the saving would be used to justify switching them back on.

The work to create the business plan is likely to take until autumn because of an existing PFI contract relating to the lights, set up in 2010.

This agreement was planned to run for 25 years, and involved replacing all the street light columns and heads, and connecting them to a control management system, which allows the lights to be dimmed and have timers set.

Cllr Kemp said LED technology was too expensive in 2010 to consider, and that even two years ago it was not viable; but now the technology costs less and energy prices are rising, there is a business case for making the change.

The final decision will be made after the business plan has been put to the cabinet to discuss in detail.