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Dorset Council permit scheme for road works and street works

The Dorset Council permit scheme is in consultation until 6 December 2019

Introduction and history

Dorset Council is working with Saanchi Solutions Limited to develop and implement a permit scheme for road works and street works to improve reliability of information about activities taking place on the highway network; and reduce inconvenience to road users and the negative impact on the economy from disruption caused by roadworks.

At the moment, under current procedures, work promoters like utilities and the council's own in-house highway maintenance teams have a statutory right to work on the highway and tell the council by means of a notice to work, when they will be working on the road.

Permit schemes were bought into existence through the Traffic Management Act in 2004. The first scheme launched in Kent in 2009, followed by London in 2010. Statutory guidance introduced in 2015 has given greater consistency across all schemes and councils across the country have begun to introduce them.

Dorset Council received a letter from the Department for Transport in 2018 (which was addressed to all local authorities who weren't running a permit scheme,) giving direction to introduce one by April 2020. No councils in the south west region were at that time operating a permit scheme.

The permit scheme

Dorset Council proposes to introduce its scheme in January 2020.

Under the scheme, promoters will need to ask for permission to work from Dorset Council via an electronic application process, before starting (not including emergency works which can start immediately).

Granted applications may incur a fee. Work cannot start until a permit is approved.

Both the works promoters and Dorset Council can impose appropriate and mindful conditions on every job to include when work can take place, how long for, and how much roadspace can be taken up.

Working without a valid permit becomes a criminal offence and can incur fines and infringements. Carrying out work not in accordance with the conditions applied to the permit can also incur penalties.

Promoters will need to provide clear start and end dates for their work on certain roads and any alteration to these can incur a charge as well.

Compliance with the scheme will be monitored routinely. Annual reports are sent to the Department for Transport. The scheme will be cost neutral – with the cost of permits funding the administration of the scheme.

The permit scheme is not to be confused with lane rental schemes, which allows a local highway authority to charge works promoters for the time that street and road works occupy the highway - these currently only operate in Kent and London.

Activities requiring a permit

Only the following activities require a permit:

  • utility works (gas, electric, water, sewerage and telephony)
    • work on plant and apparatus in the road by statutory undertakers (utility companies) including all remedial works
  • council highway works (Dorset Highways and its contractors)
    • maintenance and improvement works to the road itself carried out by, or on behalf of, the highway authority; and all highway works

and only when one or more of the follow criteria apply:

  • activities that involve the breaking up or resurfacing of any street
  • activities that involve the opening of the carriageway or cycleway of traffic sensitive streets at traffic-sensitive times
  • activities that require the use of any form of temporary traffic control as defined in the Code of Practice for Safety at Street Works and Road Works
  • activities that reduce the number of lanes available on a carriageway of three or more lanes
  • activities that require a temporary traffic regulation order or notice, or the suspension of pedestrian crossing facilities
  • activities that require a reduction in width of the existing carriageway of a traffic sensitive street at a traffic-sensitive time

Exclusions

Activities which don't require a permit are identified in the permit scheme document under section 7.

Benefits

Some of the benefits identified, include:

  • reduction in disruption on the road network
  • improvement in overall network management
  • reduction of delays and inconvenience to the travelling public
  • reduction in costs to businesses caused by delays
  • incentives for work promoters to collaborate

Consultation

Part 3 of the Traffic Management Act 2004 and the Traffic Management Permit Scheme (England) Regulations 2007 gives local authorities powers to design and operate a permit scheme to improve the management of works in the street undertaken by highway authorities and utilities companies. Dorset Council proposes to exercise these powers to introduce a system of permits for street works and road works.

The consultation is primarily aimed at highway works promoters, utility companies and their regulators but responses are welcomed from anyone with an interest.

The consultation will close on 6 December.

Scheme documents

Have your say

You can email dcpermitscheme@dorsetcouncil.gov.uk to leave your comments.

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