The DfT, or Department for Transport, has recently announced its plan to have a lane rental programme for the entire country, with the programme aimed at giving local authorities the opportunity to charge various utility providers and companies as much as £2,500 per day to be allowed to dig up roads (especially the busiest ones) during peak hours and times.
This recent announcement follows a series of successful and well-implemented trial runs of the lane rental programme or scheme put forward by the county council of Kent and Transport for London, and it also follows a consultation last year on various options for the management of roadworks.
The response of the government to the lane rental programme or scheme is that a new programme or scheme would need to gain approval from the transport secretary, and it has to correspond with current major legislation as well – only then will the government give it full approval.
The Department for Transport will be responsible for drafting and issuing guidance for bidding for local authorities, and this will be available by the autumn, based on the following guidelines:
• The authorities should have a well-organised and well-thought-out scheme for permits, such as permit fees that are reasonable, and discounts are to be offered for joint roadworks, and that the road work complies with permit regulations, and so on.
• The scheme will be applied to the local authority’s works as well (just like the schemes implemented for London and Kent).
• The lane rental fee or charge will be used for the incentivising of work which is outside peak hours, that the charges are waived for joint roadworks, and that a cap will be placed for major roadworks that will replace and install apparatus, in order that these works will not be unfairly delayed or penalized.
• The scheme will have a trial period before it is made permanent, and it will be reviewed every year so that the charges will remain reasonable and are only applied to roads which are the busiest and most congested.
According to the minister for transport, Jo Johnson, drivers are often mad when road projects or works result in delays, particularly if there is no one currently working on the road project. Through lane rental, drivers are not significantly disrupted, because utility firms have changed where and when they carry out their work. Now, Jo Johnson adds, they would like other motorists around the country to experience the same advantages.
The government estimates that the lane rental programme will bring a total benefit of £84.3 million to business. Officials from the DfT said that around 2.5 million works on the roads are done every year, which costs the economy an excess of £4 billion due to late deliveries or employees.