Snarled-up traffic jam

Roadworks permit scheme helps reduce misery for drivers

Snarled-up traffic jam

A study commissioned by the Department for Transport has found that roadwork permit schemes have meant big benefits for drivers.

First introduced in 2010, permit schemes give councils more control over the roadworks undertaken on their streets. Companies have to apply to the local authority for a permit to carry out the work before starting, helping councils plan to minimise disruption.

The report found that in areas where permit schemes were used, the length of disruption to motorists was reduced by an average of more than three days. Findings also showed that the number of roadworks that overran were also reduced by the use of permits.

A key factors in the success of the scheme is that permits can specify what times of the day companies can undertake the works. Limits on the number of days allowed for the work, and even where equipment can be stored, can also be prescribed by the local authority. This stops companies and contractors from dragging out maintenance work unnecessarily.

Some 65% of local authorities now have permit schemes in place, with the Department for Transport encouraging the remaining 35% to introduce them as soon as possible. 

A nationwide rollout of lane rental schemes will also follow later this year, and complement the use of permits. Lane rental sees utility companies charged up to £2,500 per day to dig up the busiest roads, further incentivising firms to get work done sooner.

At present, lane rental has only been trialled in London and Kent. However, the initial signs are that again they have had a positive impact on helping reduce congestion. Further guidance will be issued later in 2018 to see lane rental schemes applied across the country.

Roads Minister Jesse Norman has claimed that roadworks cost the UK economy more than £4 billion each year. The Department for Transport also has plans to encourage utility companies to place services beneath pavements, rather than roads, to minimise disruption. 

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