By Max Clarke

Utility companies may soon have to pay for digging up roads during times of peak usage, in a bid to reduce disruption caused by works, the transport secretary this morning announced.

By charging utility companies more to carry out works it is hoped that it will dissuade them from undertaking disruptive roadworks that are not 100% necessary. Currently such works are thought to cost the UK economy in excess of £4billion a year, through lost work hours spent sitting in traffic and through wasted fuel.

"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,” commented Transport Secretary, Phillip Hammond.

"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.”

The Department for Transport has today published a consultation and draft guidance to councils outlining how lane rental schemes could be implemented. Any councils wishing to put in place a lane rental scheme would need to gain approval from the Department.

Money raised by local councils will be diverted to further improve infrastructure, helping to deliver further savings of time and money.

Utility companies have faced criticism of late for pulling in sizeable profits at a time when customers are struggling to pay their bills. The ‘big-six’ energy giants have also been placed under the spotlight for accusations of price fixing, after each announced price hikes averaging more than 13% within weeks of eachother.

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