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Government plans to charge utility companies for digging up roads

The Government is running a consultation on allowing local authorities to charge utility companies by the hour during road works in a move to cut congestion.

Roadworker on motorway

Trials in London and Kent have seen severe congestion from utility works fall by more than half.

Already in use in London – where it’s reported to have led to substantial savings in delay to road users since its introduction in June 2012 – and Kent, the ‘lane rental’ scheme could be in place nationwide by 2019 and would encourage utility companies to avoid busy roads and peak times, and incentivise them to join together when they do need to dig up congested routes.

According to the DfT, the 2.5 million roadworks currently carried out each year cost the economy £4bn due to delays to commuters or deliveries.

RAC roads policy spokesman Nicholas Lyes said: “The idea of ‘lane rental’ or charging utility companies by the hour for roadworks could be a stroke of genius by making it in their best interest to complete works as efficiently as possible but that must not be at the expense of the quality of the work.”

However, he warned: “It is critical that there is not a trade-off between the speed and the quality of works and that there is further improvement in the coordination between roads authorities and utility companies.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.