The voice of utilities on streetworks, NJUG, has highlighted serious concerns that the Department of Transportís proposals to introduce lane rental charges will increase utility bills and cause disruption to local residents.
Lane rental would require utilities to pay charges of up to £2,500 per day to work in the road at busy times - or to work at less busy times such as late at night, which would cause more disruption to local residents.
It is strange that at a time when there is mounting consumer and political concern about rising utility bills and the impact on household budgets, the government is proposing a measure that will inevitably result in further increases to utility bills, for little or no benefit.
A growing number of stakeholders, most recently the London Assembly Transport Committee, question whether lane rental charges are the right way to reduce the disruption that roadworks can sometimes cause.
Our view is that if the government is serious about reducing disruption, it should first encourage non-regulatory approaches and ensure consistent and effective use of the existing legislation. If it is determined to implement lane rental charges, it should ensure that they apply to all works in the road - including the half of all roadworks that are carried out by highway authorities. The partial approach that has been proposed will increase bills without doing much to reduce disruption.