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Scheme which charges utility firms to carry out roadworks to continue

By Paul Francis

A trial scheme in Kent that charges utility companies as much as £2,500 a day when they carry out roadworks will be allowed to continue, the government says.

The initiative piloted by Kent County Council was to have ended in March but has been regarded as a success by the government and will go on.

The Department for Transport said it will remove a ‘sunset clause’ in the legislation that would have brought the trials in Kent and London to an end. It said the scheme had helped halve disruption to motorists.

Firms will continue to be charged for carrying out roadworks. Stock image

Transport secretary Chris Grayling said: “We’ve seen disruption to road users severely drop when works are carried out on quieter stretches away from heavy traffic.

"Allowing Kent and London to continue with their lane rental schemes will mean millions of drivers will have better journeys.”

The move was welcomed by county transport chiefs.

Cllr Matthew Balfour, the politician in charge of Kent’s roads, said: “We are pleased that with the removal of the sunset clause we are able to continue its successful lane rental scheme.

"It has incentivised a change in how work is carried out on the busiest parts of Kent’s road network so that disruption is minimised by working differently with new technology; thinking differently about how work is carried out; working at different times of day and better planning.”

The Kent lane rental scheme has different charges for different types of road with a rate for a lane closure and a rate for a road closure. The charges are set to reflect the relative economic importance of the road.

Companies are able to reduce costs in different ways, including working outside rush hour periods.

However, the scheme covers a relatively small part of the county’s road network.

The DfT said it was now considering widening the scheme and allowing all authorities to implement charges.

Currently, most highway authorities use a permit scheme to oversee road works. Some 2.5 million roadworks are carried out in England each year, costing the economy £4bn.

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