Local councils could soon charge utility companies up to £2500 a day for digging up busy roads at peak traffic hours.
Lane rental schemes, which have been trialled in Kent and London, will be rolled out across the country, giving local governments the power to charge companies for digging up roads, in an effort to cut congestion.
The scheme encourages collaboration between companies to reduce the number of individual roadworks. Recorded collaborations in London increased six-fold after lane rental was introduced in London in 2015.
Under the lane rental schemes, companies will be penalised for digging up roads during peak times, with incentives offered for choosing quieter roads and disrupting traffic only outside of peak hours.
Although the first lane rental schemes outside of the trials are as far off as late 2019, the Department for Transport will be assisting local governments in implementing them.
The DfT claims that 2.5 million roadworks take place every year on UK roads, at a cost to the economy of £4 billion.
Nicholas Lyes, the RAC’s head of roads policy, said: “Trials showed that some of the worst congestion caused by planned utility works in London was reduced by half on roads where lane rental was in operation, so rolling this out will extend the benefits nationwide.
“RAC research suggests congestion on our roads and journey time reliability are growing concerns for motorists so introducing lane rental should encourage better planning and coordination of roadworks, and mean utility works are completed in a swifter, more efficient manner.”