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Temporary Road Works

Frequently Asked Questions

Who Is Digging Up The Road?

The Council receives a number of enquiries and questions every day regarding the public highway, often asking "who is digging up the road"? It is a common misconception that the Council is responsible for all excavations on the highway. In fact, statutory undertakers carry out the vast majority of highway excavations. There is legislation which defines the relationship between local authorities and statutory undertakers. This is the New Roads and Street works Act 1991.

What Is The New Roads and Street Works Act (NRSWA) 1991?

This act defines the responsibilities and obligations of local authorities and statutory undertakers (also referred to as 'utility companies') when works are carried out on the public highway.

Who Are Statutory Undertakers?

Organisations licensed by the government to dig holes in roads, verges, footways (pavements) under The New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 NRSWA. This includes all the well known utilities – Gas, Electricity, Water, British Telecom, Cable Television, - as well as other telecommunication companies. The objectives of the act are to:

  • to ensure safety
  • to minimise inconvenience to users of the road and footway network, especially the disabled
  • to protect the structure of the street scene, particularly its apparatus

Statutory undertakers must inform local authorities of their planned works on the public highway. The period of notice that must be given to local authorities before such works can commence, depends on the magnitude, nature and location of individual schemes. For emergency works, local authorities should be notified no later than 2 hours after work has begun.

What Power Does The Council Have Over Statutory Undertakers' Works?

Local authorities have the power to monitor and co-ordinate all such works, but do not directly manage the workings of statutory undertakers. Restrictions as to the time of certain works can be imposed, for example, to minimise traffic congestion on important roads during peak hours. Planned works are normally precluded in residential areas between late evening and early morning. Section 58 of the act, enables local authorities to prevent statutory undertakers from carrying out planned excavations within 12 months of roads / footways having been resurfaced or re-laid. Some exceptions are permitted in the case of safety and emergency works or supplies to new premises.

Can The Council Levy Penalties For Late Completion Of Works?

Yes. Local authorities have the legal right, under section 74 of The New Roads and Street Works Act 1991, NRSWA, to impose a penalty on statutory undertakers who fail to complete their works on time, unless approval has been given to extend the time-scale. The size of the penalty can range from £100 to £2000 per day.

How Do You Know Which Statutory Undertaker Is Carrying Out Works?

Statutory undertakers are required to display courtesy boards where they are working. These boards should display contact telephone numbers and, in some cases, the name of the person who will assist in dealing with enquiries.

Does The Council Inspect These Works?

Yes. Approximately 30% of these works are inspected by officers of the council at differing stages of progress. Any defects that come to light, are reported to the relevant statutory undertaker, so that the appropriate remedial action can be undertaken.

What If Something Goes Wrong?

In extreme cases, local authorities may intervene. Otherwise, statutory undertakers are obliged to conform to a Code of Practice for the site safety of all the schemes they are responsible for. For works carried out by statutory undertakers, there is a minimum of two years guarantee period. If the quality of the reinstatement work is found to have failed during this period, the statutory undertaker will be required to put it right.

Do The Council And Statutory Undertakers Talk To One Another?

Yes. To assist in the co-ordination of works and to avoid digging up the same holes time and time again, regular requests are made to all statutory undertakers for details of their planned works. Quarterly co-ordination meetings are also held with representatives of all statutory undertakers, as well as other interested parties.