Lane rentals on the increase as councils press utilities teams
Another lane rental scheme has been signed off by local transport minister Norman Baker, as the streetworks policy is swiftly adopted nationwide.
The scheme – sponsored by Bedford, Luton and Southend-on-Sea BCs and Hertfordshire CC – subjects utility firms to advance permitting as well as timing conditions in order to carry out works. Failure to comply could result in fines of up to £5,000.
In London, lane rental began this month following a successful trial last year. Utility companies and highway authorities have been charged £2,500-a-day to dig up roads on the Transport for London (TfL) network at peak times.
Profits generated from the scheme will be pumped into an 18-month project run by the Transport Research Laboratory exploring new techniques to speed up and reduce the costs of streetworks. This includes plating and fast-setting road replacements. According to TfL, this will enable work to be carried out in the evening and weekends, outside of the rental scheme.
But the utilities sector has already branded the policy ‘unjustified’ (Surveyor, 16 March). Chief executive of the National Joint Utilities Group, Les Guest, claimed that evening work would cause more safety risks and disruption for local communities.Mr Baker said: ‘It is important councils use the powers they have to make sure utility firms carry out works with consideration for those who use the road.’
Others already taking part in the scheme include Kent CC, Northamptonshire CC, St Helens MBC and local authorities in Yorkshire.
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