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Department for Transport consults on longer roadworks guarantee for utility companies

The Department for Transport has launched a consultation on whether to lengthen the guarantee on utility firms’ roadworks so that if a pothole forms as a result within five years rather than two as currently, the company must return to bring the road surface back to normal.

The Specification for the reinstatement of openings in highways consultation will also introduce new asphalt standards, to keep roads pothole-free for longer.

The Department said the proposals would allow for new innovative surfacing to be used, such as asphalt with a high bitumen content that is easier to compact to the required density. This makes it less prone to potholing, it claimed.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “Potholes are the biggest enemy for road users and this government is looking at all options to keep our roads in the best condition.

“Road surfaces can be made worse by utility companies, so imposing higher standards on repairs will help keep roads pothole-free for longer.”

Clive Bairsto, Chief Executive of Street Works UK, which represents utilities and their contractors, said: “We welcome the Department for Transport’s consultation on the SROH Code of Practice. Utilities and their contractor partners are committed to undertaking work to the highest standards, with the latest published figures showing that the performance of utilities is significantly higher than local authorities in relation to the quality of reinstatements.

“However, we do not believe that proposals to increase guarantee periods are necessary or will be effective. The Government should not take forward proposals unless they are supported by a strong evidence base. Utilities and their contractor partners play a vital role in delivering and maintaining vital infrastructure which powers the economy, and it is crucial that any new regulations are proportionate.”

Bairsto added: “We welcome the opportunity this consultation provides to consider how the street works policy framework can encourage and enable greater innovation. This will allow utilities and their contractor partners to undertake work to an even higher standard more quickly, reducing disruption for motorists.”