Surrey and East Sussex county councils have entered a joint roadworks permit scheme that is designed to reduce congestion on the counties roads.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has given both councils control over when utility companies and other businesses dig up the roads, with firms needing to apply for a permit before they can begin any roadworks.
In Surrey alone around 45,000 roadworks take place annually, costing the county’s economy just under £100 million due to the congestion they cause.
Reducing roadworks in Surrey will save the county’s economy millions of pounds every year through greater coordination of activity and stricter controls over when and how roadworks are carried out.
Local Transport Minister Norman Baker said: “Roadworks may be necessary, but it can be incredibly frustrating for people when they get stuck in traffic jams.
“That is why we have given Surrey and East Sussex County Council the power and the freedom to take greater control of how its road works are organised and co-ordinated. This will not only help to reduce congestion in and around the county, but provide a better service to drivers, cyclists and passengers.”
John Furey, Surrey County Council’s cabinet member for transport and environment, said: “This will mean that rather than simply informing us of roadworks, companies will have to ask permission to work in a road for a specific period of time and specified purpose. So if two separate companies wanted to work on the same road, we could request they carry out their work at the same time. This means the road would only have to be closed once, halving congestion.”
The initiative will be called the South East Permit Scheme, paving the way for other councils to join in the future. It is due to come into effect this winter.