Plans to charge utility companies up to £2,500 a day to dig up roads have been launched by the Government.
Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said ‘lane rental’ schemes would allow councils to charge utility companies to dig up the busiest roads during peak times.
Companies would be able to avoid the charges by carrying out works during quieter periods or at night.
Hammond said: ”Everyone knows how frustrating it can be when you are sat in a traffic jam, unable to get to work or drop off the children at school because someone is digging up the road.
“This disruption is expensive as well as inconvenient, with one estimate valuing the loss to the economy from road works congestion at £4 billion a year. We simply cannot afford this.
“That is why I am putting forward proposals which would incentivise utility companies and local authorities to carry out their works at times when they will cause the minimum disruption to the travelling public.”
Street works trade body NJUG warned that the new charges needed to apply to roads dug up by local authorities.
NJUG CEO Les Guest said: “For any lane rental scheme to be truly effective it must only be targeted at the busiest streets in England, charges must be avoidable for example if utilities choose to work out of hours, and they must apply equally to local authorities’ own works, which after all account for half of all works carried out.
“Unfortunately under the current proposals local authorities are encouraged but not legally obliged to apply Lane Rental to their own works, which would detract from the effectiveness of the scheme.
“Similarly existing schemes such a works overrun penalties and permits apply no financial penalty on highway authority works which as a consequence frequently overrun without any effective sanction.”