The government has announced proposals aimed at significantly reducing disruption caused by roadworks.

The proposals would allow local authorities to charge utility companies by the hour to carry out works on selected routes, encouraging them to avoid busy roads and peak times, and incentivising them to collaborate when they dig up roads. 

Currently local authorities use permit schemes to monitor roadworks, but the government believes the proposals would give councils greater powers to ensure utilities companies avoid carrying out works at “the busiest times and on the most congested routes”, according to transport secretary Chris Grayling.

Trials in London and Kent have seen severe congestion caused by utility works fall by more than half, the government said. Transport for London reported that serious and severe congestion caused from planned utility works fell by 51% on lane rental roads compared to before the trial. Furthermore, utility companies have worked together more than 600 times since the London trials began, up from just 100 beforehand.

C-Store’s Works Must Pay campaign sought to highlight the loss of trade to retailers caused by long-running roadworks. It called for a change of law to ensure the impact was reduced or retailers were adequately compensated for loss of trade.

Former Liberal Democrat MP Greg Mulholland last year tabled an Early Day Motion in Parliament in response to the campaign.

High-profile retailer Dean Holborn, owner of Holborn’s Redhill and Nutfield in Surrey, once lost about £90,000 in trade due to gas works outside one of his stores.

Commenting on the new proposals, he said: “It’s very welcome news, especially having personally been victim of utilities work on numerous occasions – and having lost a lot of money as a result. Hopefully this will reduce the pain for other retailers in the future.

C-Store’s Works Must Pay campaign has obviously helped raise awareness of the issue, and put the industry first. Well done C-Store!”

The consultation, which closes on 28 October, can be found here.