You need permission from the council to put some equipment connected with digging into a public road on the street.

This equipment is often known as ‘apparatus’.

You can do emergency work without a licence but you must tell the council within 2 hours of starting work.

Other work you need a licence for

You need a licence to dig or tunnel into a street, sewer or drain.

You also need a licence to do any of these to apparatus:

  • inspect
  • adjust
  • maintain
  • repair
  • renew
  • move
  • alter
  • remove


You must ask the sewer authority before giving notice to the council if you want to do work that will affect a public sewer.

This is an introduction to the requirements of the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 (“NRSWA”), and is a simple checklist and guide for the applicants of section 50s.

Apply for a streetworks licence

Complete each section of the streetworks licence application process as required. ('SWL' means 'streetworks licence' and is the reference used for different parts of the form)

  1. SWL 1 - read the guidance notes for all applicants
  2. Initial application - required at least one month before the proposed start date:
  3. SWL 4 - notice of works - required at least seven days before the proposed start date
  4. SWL 5 - registration of works - required within seven days of completion of reinstatement
    • SWL 7 - waste transfer note - complete only if required, and send together with the registration of works

Form SWL 6 is deliberately excluded.


  • the person granted a street works licence becomes an Undertaker for the purposes of NRSWA, and therefore attracts the relevant duties and responsibilities imposed by the Act and its associated secondary legislation and codes of practice
  • financial penalties will be imposed by the council against the licence holder, who will be held responsible for non-compliance with the relevant statutory duties or licence conditions. Applicants should note that this responsibility cannot be delegated to any other person or organisation

  • a street works licence or consent to work on existing apparatus in the highway will only be granted to the owner(s) of the apparatus or his/her/their Successors in Title. Owners should note their statutory duty to ensure that the apparatus is properly maintained at all times
  • applicants should note that special conditions may be imposed by the council which must be adhered to:
    • to minimise the inconvenience to persons using the street, having regard to people with a disability in particular
    • for works in traffic sensitive streets, streets with special engineering difficulties and protected streets 
  • the licensee must permit the council to monitor their performance throughout all stages of street works. These are signing and guarding, excavation, backfilling and reinstatement:
    • immediately after permanent reinstatement
    • between 6 and 9 months after permanent reinstatement
    • during the one month preceding the end of the guarantee period. (this period will begin from the date the council is notified of the permanent reinstatement)
  • where the apparatus in respect of which an application for a street works licence is made to the council is to be placed or retained on a line crossing the street, and not along the line of the street, a person aggrieved by any of the following may appeal to the Secretary of State on the grounds of:

    • the refusal of the council to grant him a licence
    • the refusal of the council to grant a licence except on terms prohibiting its assignment or
    • any terms or conditions of the licence granted to him

Traffic Team (roadworks)

Name: Traffic Team
Tel: 01305 221020
Full contact details