Why new permits may be wholly effective

The new powers given to local councils to get utility companies to apply for permits before embarking upon digging up the roads has received a note of cautious approval from the RAC Foundation.

RAC’s 2008 Alarm survey has found that 2.5 million trenches are dug annually, at a cost of £8.6 billion of congestion and pothole damage.

The current average rate to wait for a road to be re-surfaced is 65 years.

Sheila Rainger, acting director of the RAC Foundation, said: "Trenches dug by utility companies cause congestion and delay, and can permanently weaken the road surface.

"The Traffic Management Act increases the powers of local authorities in England and Wales to set binding start and finish dates, order re-surfacing work and fine those companies who abuse the system. We urge all local authorities to exercise these powers as strongly as possible, whether through the new fixed penalty schemes or through court action."

The RAC Foundation has discovered that the total size of all of the roadworks added together would amount to a hole the size of 1,500 Albert Halls.

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