Lane rental scheme rolled out

Utilities wishing to dig up the road will soon have to pay a ‘lane rental’ scheme to go about their business. The Road Haulage Association has called on the government to use the new money to pay for wider road repairs.

The Department for Transport has decided to roll out the lane rental scheme after successful pilots in London and Kent. Utilities are being charged up to £2500 a day to dig up a road, in a bid to reduce delays brought about the repairs of under-road pipes and cables.

Transport minister Jo Johnson said: “Lane rental has seen a massive drop in disruption to drivers as utility companies have changed when and where they carry out work. Now we want millions of motorists around England to get the same benefits.”

The RHA has said the proceeds used to fund road improvement schemes. Chief executive, Richard Burnett said: “The road network is clogged-up and in a poor state of repair, and has suffered as a result of continual under-investment and short-term thinking. We urge authorities to reinvest all surplus Lane Rental revenues in high-quality road improvement schemes to help make the network fit for purpose.”

The RHA also pointed out that lane rental has significantly increased utility companies costs in the pilot areas. This has been seen as a worrying development because some companies have delayed essential works.

“DfT reports that some utility companies have waited until infrastructure has needed repairing to avoid incurring the extra costs as emergency works don’t incur charges,” said Burnett.“This isn’t a good sign and certainly flies against the move to encourage contractors to plan and synchronise their work schedules to reduce disruption to road users; so this needs managing very carefully. The last thing we need is more unplanned roadworks,” from emergency repairs that have occurred due to planned work not being carried out.