The UK government has announced a street works consultation to prevent utility companies letting roadworks overrun.
The move will see an extension to the current £10,000 per day fine for overrunning street works into weekends and bank holidays as part of the government’s new Plan for Drivers launched last year, and which included scaling up EV charging infrastructure.
Roads Minister Guy Opperman said currently firms are only fined for disruption on working days, but the new measures could double fines from £500 up to a maximum of £1,000 for companies who breach conditions of the job, such as working without a permit.
The plans would also direct at least 50% of money from lane rental schemes to be used to improve roads and repair potholes. Lane rental schemes allow local highway authorities to charge companies for the time that street and road works occupy the road. As a result, the measures could generate up to £100m across a 10 year period, which would be used to resurface roads.
The consultation comes after the government introduced a performance-based “street works regime” to ensure utility companies resurface roads to the best possible standard, and new lane rental schemes where utility companies can be charged up to £2,500 per day for street works.
Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: “After investing an extra £8.3 billion to resurface roads across England, the largest ever increase in funding for local road improvements, this Government continues to back drivers with these new measures from our Plan for Drivers.
“Our new proposals seek to free up our roads from overrunning street works, cut down traffic jams and generate up to £100 million extra to resurface roads up and down the country.”
Roads Minister Guy Opperman said: “Being stuck in traffic is infuriating for drivers. Too often traffic jams are caused by overrunning street works.
“This Government is backing drivers, with a robust approach to utility companies and others, who dig up our streets. We will seek to massively increase fines for companies that breach conditions and fine works that overrun into weekends and bank holidays.”
Edmund King, AA president, said: “Overrunning roadworks and poorly re-instated roads from utilities companies frustrate drivers, cause unnecessary congestion, and trench defects can damage vehicles and injure those on two-wheels.
RAC head of policy Simon Williams said: “Drivers shouldn’t have to put up with temporary roadworks for any longer than is necessary, so we’re pleased to see the Government is looking to do more to guarantee that utility companies minimise disruption by carrying out roadworks as quickly and efficiently as possible. They should also leave roads in better condition than they found them, which unfortunately is hardly ever the case at the moment.”
Kent County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, Neil Baker, said: “I welcome the launch of the government’s street works consultation to consider measures aimed at preventing utility roadworks overrunning. We have already piloted a pioneering Lane Rental Scheme on some of our roads, which encourages utility companies to work in the most efficient way to minimise disruption for the traveling public in Kent.”
Clive Bairsto, Chief Executive of Street Works UK, said: “We look forward to engaging constructively with Government throughout this consultation, representing our members and the wider industry, to ensure both utilities and local authorities can deliver infrastructure works whilst giving customers and road users the speed of delivery, lack of congestion, and transparency they expect.”