Utility companies that take too long to complete their road works will face higher fines, Transport Minister Norman Baker has announced.
All utility companies that dig up streets and roads must agree a fixed time line for their works with local councils. If works continue over this period and it has not negotiated with the local council then they face a ‘penalty charge’ for each additional the road works that are still there.
At the moment, the maximum daily penalty charge is £2,500. From 1st October 2012 this will rise on the busiest roads to £5,000 a day for the first three days, rising to £10,000 a day from the fourth day onward. Councils have been told to spend overrun charge income on implementing transport policies.
Norman Baker said: “We know that utility firms need to dig up the road to maintain the infrastructure we all rely upon but sometimes this work takes far too long to complete, causing disruption and frustration for everyone using the road.
“Increasing these charges means that utilities will pay penalties which reflect the cost of the disruption suffered when works go on longer than they should.
“The increases will also provide an incentive for utilities to finish works on time and prevent people sitting in unnecessary traffic jams in the first place.”
Regulations will be laid in Parliament shortly and are due to come in to force in October 2012.
The Government has also recently put forward proposals for councils to use lane rental schemes which would mean utilities pay a daily charge to do works on the busiest roads as well as measures to reduce red tape for councils wanting to implement road works permit schemes. Both consultations can be found on the Department’s website.
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