The government is proposing to charge utility companies, which have been increasing prices for customers in recent months, for roadwork during busy times of day. Ministers have suggested that the utility companies pay the councils in which they are working in order to rent the road space. Charges could be avoided by working at night or in quieter times of day.
Inconvenient and Expensive
The proposal will undergo a 12-week consultation, in which the benefits and negatives of implementing the charges will be discussed. Philip Hammond, the transportation secretary, expressed his views on the subject, saying, “Everyone knows how frustrating it can be when you are sat in a traffic jam, unable to get to work or drop off the children at school because someone is digging up the road.
“This disruption is expensive as well as inconvenient, with one estimate valuing the loss to the economy from road works congestion at £4bn a year. We simply cannot afford this.
“That is why I am putting forward proposals which would incentivise utility companies and local authorities to carry out their works at times when they will cause the minimum disruption to the travelling public.”
A consultation and draft guidance has been given to councils by the Department for Transportation (DoT). The guidance gives a sense of procedures that can be used to create “lane rental schemes”, or the ability to rent part of the road for roadwork.
Testing the Plan
The initiative is set to be originally implemented in test areas: one urban and one slightly more rural. It has been suggested that charges be avoidable in some way and proportionate to congestions charges, much like the congestion zone fees in central London.
Similar ideas have been asked of councils in respect to their own works. Revenue raised from any lane rental charges would help to fund preventative measures that would help eliminate disruption from roadwork.
However, the plans could come under discussion as local councils could feel as if they should be responsible for their own congestion issues, rather than schemes from Parliament. However, London could become a test-city for the scheme upon completion of the consultation.