DfT report backs permits to shorten works and cut disruption

Chris Ames

The Department for Transport (DfT) has backed calls for the 35% of highway authorities that do not have permit schemes in place to consider introducing them.

An official government review found that permit schemes provide a range of benefits, including the fact that road and street works are on average completed more quickly than under noticing. The greatest impact related to major works completed by statutory undertakers, with an average reduction of 3.19 days in the time taken.

The DfT, which commissioned Ecorys UK to carry out the review, said it supports its central recommendation and would be working with the Highway Authorities and Utilities Committee (HAUC) (England) ‘over the coming months’ to consider all of the recommendations.

Roads minister Jesse Norman said: 'Roadworks are the bane of drivers’ lives, causing delays and costing the UK economy £4.3bn a year.

'Permit schemes are proven to reduce the length of roadworks, allowing motorists to have fewer disrupted journeys and reducing the burden on businesses.

'More councils should look at adopting permit schemes, as well as lane rental schemes in due course.'

The review sought to test a number of assumptions around permit schemes, which give highway authorities the ability to proactively manage all street works as a way to reduce and control associated disruption and can now be implemented without ministerial permission.

These assumptions included that authorities would use the levers permit schemes provide, leading to improved co-ordination and shorter works durations.

Using a ‘counterfactual’ impact evaluation that compared outcomes for a matched sample of works completed under both permitting and noticing regimes, the review found that works completed under a permit scheme were, on average, completed in a shorter time than works completed under noticing.

The finding that permitting shortens the duration of works was supported by a survey of highway authorities, in which 83% agreed or strongly agreed that their permit scheme had led to a reduction in the duration of the works, and interviews undertaken as part of the evaluation.

‘Interviewees did acknowledge, however, that at LHA [local highway authority] level it is difficult to robustly demonstrate this effect in quantitative terms, in part because of the influence of other factors such as changes in local policies or fluctuations in promoter activity.’

The review’s analysis of works data showed an increase in the recorded volume of works following the introduction of a permit scheme ‘due, at least in part, to the requirement for a permit scheme to apply to the LHA’s own works as well as statutory undertakers’.

It added: ‘Furthermore, counterfactual impact evaluation shows that works were less likely to over-run when completed under a permit regime, except for standard and major highways works. These findings imply that permit schemes provide LHAs with more control over their network, which the LHA interview findings [also] support.’

While promoters (those carrying out the works) expressed concern about attempts to influence their duration or their approach to the work, authorities interviewed ‘felt they had taken the time to consider the specific features of each job to inform this challenge’.

On the development and operation of permit schemes, the review states that evidence from a survey and interviews with highway authorities ‘suggests that the decision to explore the introduction of a permit scheme is typically prompted by a need to reduce disruption and improve control of the road network’ and suggests that these outcomes are largely achieved.

It adds that both highway authorities and promoters interviewed felt that there will be a continued upward trend in the number of LHAs operating a permit scheme.

The DfT confirmed that it will issue guidance on lane rental schemes, which can complement permitting, later this year. It added that more detail on transport secretary Chris Grayling's plan to make the footway the default location for new utilities 'will be revealed in due course'.

Highways jobs

Assistant Director - Growth and Development

Lincoln City Council
£59,058.00 - £65,127.00
Looking for an experienced manager with a good track record in proactively driving economic growth and investment. Lincoln, Lincolnshire
Recuriter: Lincoln City Council

Assistant Director – Transport and Connectivity

Birmingham City Council
£73,513 - £90,864
This is one of a number of influential new senior roles for collaborative people, motivated by doing what’s right for our city and residents. Birmingham, West Midlands
Recuriter: Birmingham City Council

Director (Environment and Planning)

Hinckley & Bosworth Borough Council
£77,265 p.a.
You will have a great opportunity to drive forward an ambitious strategic growth agenda... Hinckley, Leicestershire
Recuriter: Hinckley & Bosworth Borough Council

Service Director – Environment

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
Looking to recruit to a key post within our Economy and Infrastructure Directorate.  Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Transport & Development Officer (Career Grade)

London Borough of Bexley
£29,130 - £40,173
This is a Career Grade post and an excellent opportunity. Bexley (City/Town), London (Greater)
Recuriter: London Borough of Bexley

Transport Planning Officer x 2

Plymouth City Council
£32,233 to £41,846
If you are an experienced Transport Planner then we need you to step aboard.  Plympton, Plymouth
Recuriter: Plymouth City Council

Transport Planning Officer x 2

Plymouth City Council
£32,233 to £41,846
Exciting time to join the Council and this role represents an opportunity to make a real difference... Plympton, Plymouth
Recuriter: Plymouth City Council

Waste and Fleet Operations Manager

Ipswich Borough Council
£52,020 - £56,100 (pay award pending)
Looking for someone to lead and manage a large and vital operational area... Ipswich, Suffolk
Recuriter: Ipswich Borough Council

Business Manager - Planning Development

Newark & Sherwood District Council
£52,004 to £55,188 per annum
Looking for a suitably qualified and experienced individual to lead, manage, and develop the Council’s Development Management team. Newark, Nottinghamshire
Recuriter: Newark & Sherwood District Council

Spatial Data Developer

West Midlands Combined Authority
£36275 - £40831 per annum + exclusive benefits
As a senior GIS developer you will work within our Data Insight team to apply your experience in open source geospatial data management technologies. Birmingham, West Midlands
Recuriter: West Midlands Combined Authority

Innovation Integration Lead

West Midlands Combined Authority
£48758 - £54881 per annum + exclusive benefits
This is an exciting new post that will support the Head of Transport Innovation in the Policy, Strategy and Innovation Directorate of TfWM. Birmingham, West Midlands
Recuriter: West Midlands Combined Authority

Transport Systems Engineer

West Midlands Combined Authority
£26238 - £30698 per annum + exclusive benefits
This is an exciting new post in the Transport Innovation team of TfWM’s Policy, Strategy and Innovation Directorate. Birmingham, West Midlands
Recuriter: West Midlands Combined Authority

Senior Future Mobility Developer

West Midlands Combined Authority
£36275 - £40831 per annum + exclusive benefits
You will play a significant formative role in shaping and delivering a major new programme of Future Mobility Zones. Birmingham, West Midlands
Recuriter: West Midlands Combined Authority

Assistant Spatial Data Analyst

West Midlands Combined Authority
£19698 - £22431 per annum + exclusive benefits
As a GIS Analyst you will work within TfWM’s extremely strong Data Insight team. Birmingham, West Midlands
Recuriter: West Midlands Combined Authority

Senior Development Engineer

Bristol City Council
£27,358 - £33,136
Bristol is an exciting, and culturally thriving Regional Capital City of Bristol
Recuriter: Bristol City Council

Senior Engineer

Hounslow London Borough Council
Scale PO5 £41,847 - £44,691
We are looking for an experienced Traffic & Parking Engineer, able to work quickly and efficiently across Hounslow (City/Town), London (Greater)
Recuriter: Hounslow London Borough Council

Principal Planner orPlanning Officer

Torridge District Council
Principal Planner up to £34,788 per annum / Planning Officer up to £31,371 per annum
Each role will provide rewarding opportunities to build experience and further your career. Bideford, Devon
Recuriter: Torridge District Council

Major Transport & Development Projects - Strategic Specialist

Wiltshire Council
£51,763 - £57,066
Wiltshire has a highly regarded record of securing funding and delivering major transport improvements across all modes of travel. Wiltshire
Recuriter: Wiltshire Council

Road Safety Manager

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£35991 - £38994 per annum
We are looking a fantastic new road safety expert to lead our high performing and innovative Road Safety Team. England, London, Woolwich
Recuriter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Sustainability Team Leader

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£41847 - £44691 per annum
Sustainability Team Leader Full Time (permanent contract)Grade
Recuriter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Download your Highways App

Google App Apple App

Highways on Fridays

Latest Issue

latest magazine issue


  • The Jubliee of Britain's first motorway
  • The Big Interview with Dr Howard Robinson
  • Highways England's latest work in computer-led design
View the latest issue

Latest Video