PLANS TO make utility companies and council contractors pay up to £2,500 a day to dig up roads at peak times are hoped to reduce congestion.
The Department for Transport said that trials held in the southeast proved successful, and it hopes the approach will be adopted across England by the end of next year.
A staggering 2.5m sets of roadworks take place each year, and it’s estimated that these cost the economy £4bn in delays to drivers and subsequent loss of productivity.
The powers, first revealed last year, are aimed at making contractors carry out more work between 10pm and 6.30am, when charges would not be applied.
At the same time, work carried out during the day will need to be completed faster to minimise charges, or be carried out together with other utility providers to share costs.
The trials in London and Kent showed that the amount of severe disruption associated with planned works in the capital fell by 42% when charges were in place. This compared with a 2% reduction on other streets. The amount of work taking place during the daytime fell by almost a fifth.
Jo Johnson, the transport minister, said: “Lane rental has seen a massive drop in disruption to drivers as utility companies have changed when and where they carry out work. Now we want millions of motorists around England to get the same benefits.”
Utility companies have criticised the scheme. Bob Gallienne, the chief executive of Street Works UK, which represents utility companies and their contractors, told The Times: “We believe this approach is a blunt instrument that will make it harder for utilities companies to deliver vital infrastructure.”