Can you dig it?

August 31, 2011, 10:51 PM GMT+0

Almost half of British people would support utility companies having to pay a fee to dig up roads, our poll has revealed.

Some have suggested that charging companies for each day the road remains dug up would minimise the frequency and length of time that roads are obstructed, but some counter that any fees would just be passed onto customers in the form of higher bills. More than a third of those polled would oppose the fees.

  • 47% of British people would support utility companies having to pay a fee to dig up roads
  • While 34% would oppose the charges and think that any costs would simply be passed onto customers through higher gas and water prices

The poll comes as a Government consultation paper suggests proposals to charge utility companies for digging up roads during busy times.

Expensive and inconvenient

Announcing the 12-week consultation for the scheme, which began last week, Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said ‘Everyone knows how frustrating it can be when you are sat in a traffic jam, unable to get to work or drop off the children at school because someone is digging up the road.

‘This disruption is expensive as well as inconvenient, with one estimate valuing the loss to the economy from road works congestion at £4bn a year. We simply cannot afford this.

‘That is why I am putting forward proposals which would incentivise utility companies and local authorities to carry out their works at times when they will cause the minimum disruption to the travelling public.’

‘Irritation for motorists’

Alasdair Reisner, director of external affairs at the Civil Engineering Contractors Association, said its members had been in favour of lane rental schemes for years.

‘Road works are a major cause of congestion on our roads and irritation for motorists, and anything that reduces their impact is welcome,’ he said.