Plans to introduce hourly lane-rental charges for utility companies when roadworks are carried out are in the pipeline after pilot schemes in London and Kent saw a decrease in congestion.

The proposals, published this week in the DfT consultation paper Roadworks: the Future of Lane Rental, seek to cut the number of roadworks on England’s roads to reduce pollution and congestion.

The government estimates
2.5 million roadworks are carried out in England every year, costing the economy approximately £4bn.

The pilot scheme, operated by TfL, has reported a 55% decrease in serious and severe congestion caused by planned utility works in 2015/16, and a 616% rise in the use of collaborative work sites, compared with the 2010/11 baseline.

The average number of days in which disruption was avoided also rose 221% from 110 to 353 in the same period.

The consultation paper said Kent saw similar results after its pilot, with the local authority reporting more collaboration and improved road user satisfaction, as well as a reduction in congestion.

The government is now considering rolling out the model nationwide, but unlike the pilot schemes, which charge daily rates of up to £2,000 for road closures and £800 a day for lane closures, local authorities would charge hourly lane-rental fees.

Proposed options include limiting the scheme to the London and Kent pilots; rolling out lane rental to all local authorities; and allowing councils to use super permits costing about £1,000 and charge increased fines for delays rather than lane-rental charges.

Launching the consultation, transport secretary Chris Grayling said: “These proposals would give councils greater powers to ensure utility companies avoid carrying out works at the busiest times and on the most popular routes.

“This would not only improve journeys and cut congestion but also save businesses from the increased costs they incur as a result of traffic on our roads.”