'Rental' bid to ease roadwork chaos
A "lane rental" scheme, in which utility firms could be charged for digging up the busiest roads during peak times, has been announced by the Government.
Companies would be able to avoid the charges, imposed by local councils, by carrying out works during quieter periods or, if appropriate, at night.
Any council wanting to put a lane rental scheme in place would need to gain approval from the Department for Transport, which has launched a consultation on the issue.
The maximum charge that councils can impose is likely to be £2,500 a day, with the money raised being used by local authorities to fund measures which could help to reduce future roadworks disruption.
Announcing the scheme on Monday, Transport Secretary Philip 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 roadworks 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."
AA president Edmund King said "It is 20 years since the latest roadworks legislation was placed on the statute book and it is about time these provisions were implemented.
"For too long road users whether using foot, cycle, bus, lorry or car have been bearing the cost of utilities digging up the road via the congestion they cause.
"A large majority of our members (71%) support the need for heavier penalties on utility companies which cause disruption. Anything that can stimulate more efficient working to reduce or eliminate this congestion is welcome and we hope the proposals will be positively received and can be implemented quickly."