New 'lane rental' scheme announced

Utility companies will have to pay councils for digging up roads during peak traffic hours under a new "lane rental" scheme proposed by the Government.

According to transport secretary Philip Hammond, it is designed to avoid the inconvenience and the massive economic cost of roadworks disruption during the busiest hours of the day.

Under the new initiative, local councils could be allowed to impose charges of up to £2,500 a day on firms wanting to carry out their works during peak times.

However, companies can avoid having to pay these costs if they choose to dig up the roads when the traffic is thin or during night time.

Money raised by the councils from "lane renting" will be utilised for improvements to minimise roadworks disruption in the future.

Local authorities will need Department for Transport approval before implementing the scheme which is currently under consultation.

Mr Hammond said: "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 roadworks congestion at £4 billion a year. We simply cannot afford this."

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