New regulations propose to give local authorities the power to charge up to £240 to those who want to dig up the road, in an attempt to reduce the congestion and disruption.
The new legislation, the The Traffic Management PermitScheme (England) Regulations 2007 will be debated in parliament this year. Highway authorities would be able to apply to the Secretary of State for permission to operate a permit scheme on its roads.The proposed maximum fee for a permit will be £240. Fees would be set by local authorities and would depend on the scale of the works and the predicted disruption. All fees revenue will be used by an Authority to run the utility side of the permit scheme.In the meantime, local authorities will gain greater powers under the Traffic Management Act 2004, allowing them to insist that companies digging up the road coordinate their activities or operate outside busy times. Companies can be fined under fixed penalty nitices up to £120 if they fail to give correct notice of works.Transport Minister Rosie Winterton said, 'There's nothing more annoying than a road being dug up time after time in the same place, or seeing work taking place at the most inconvenient times for road users.'Of course, companies like gas or water suppliers need to carry out repairs and improvements but it should be possible to co-ordinate their work better, and do it when the road isn't so busy.'These regulations enable local authorities to minimise the level of disruption to the public - for example, councils will be able to co-ordinate work by two separate companies and prevent work being carried out during the busy rush hour.'We want councils and utility companies to work together to reduce disruption. These regulations will help authorities plan ahead, ensure the works don't take longer than necessary and give new powers to allow them to issue fines where necessary,' she said.