UTILITY COMPANIES face fines of up to £2,000 a day from next month if streetworks operations overrun.
MPs were expected to approve the new powers last night which enact Section 74 of the New Roads and Streetworks Act 1991 as set out in the Transport Act 2000. A vote in favour would allow the new regulations to come into force on 1 April.
These will demand that utilities give local highway authorities a completion date for all streetworks, including emergency works.
Late running streetworks will attract fines ranging from £100 a day for smaller rural roads to up to £2,000 a day for busy urban roads.
But the regulations stop short of forcing the utilities to pay lane rental charge as soon as work starts, as this would require separate legislation. The Government is set to pilot such a scheme in Middlesbrough in late summer.
Introduced alongside the new regulations will be a revised code of practice for the co-ordination of streetworks, compiled by the Department of the Environment Transport and the Regions, with input from the National Joint Utilities Group and the Highways Authorities.
NJUG, which represents all the major utilities, plans to respond to the new challenges by creating a new Utilities Charter, under which all its members will commit to best practice, safer sites, working to time and better communication with the public.