Even parking can be made more environmentally friendly it seems with the announcement that Richmond's streets are to see solar powered meters.

Richmond Council has backed the introduction of the new-style parking meters which will replace all existing equipment.

According to the council the meters, due to be brought in between 2008-09, have improved card payment facilitates and meet requirements under the Disability Discrimination Act.

Each meter will be linked to a network meaning information from each machine can be downloaded everyday warning managers of any faults.

The scheme will cost £1.6m but the council says savings will be made in the cost of electricity and roads and pavements will not have to be dug up to install power cables.

Councillor David Trigg, cabinet member for traffic, transport and parking, said: "The existing equipment is nearing the end of its life with an increasing numbers of faults occurring.

"These new solar-powered machines represent a real high-tech boost for parking in the borough and also benefit the environment.

"It will be a more efficient and effective system, with credit and debit card payments available for the first time for both on and off-street machines, making things that much easier for people who want to pay by that method.

"The scheme has been thoroughly tested, improved security will help deter vandalism and theft, faults to the machines will be detected much earlier, and it will also save the council money.

"It is anticipated that the new machines will be phased in over the coming year, starting next month."