Lane rental scheme would see companies pay up to £2,000 a day during peak times

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Companies digging up busy roads could be forced to pay premium rates of up £2,000 a day during peak times.

The so-called “lane rental” scheme aims to minimise disruption by making sure firms finish work on key routes as quickly as possible.

Highways chiefs at County Hall have begun consulting on plans and if given the green light will be the first county council to move forward with this type of scheme.

Cabinet member for environment, highways and waste at KCC, Cllr Bryan Sweetland, said the initiative is aimed at keeping disruption to drivers to a minimum.

“The lane rental scheme will also encourage these firms to work at less disruptive times,” he added.

Charges would apply at certain times of day and at particular times of year in tourist areas or on school-sensitive routes.

Road closures would be charged at £2,000 and £1,600 a day, and lane closures would be £800, 400, £600, or £300 dependant on disruption caused and location.

Revenue generated by the scheme would be invested in further work to cut congestion in Kent.

It follows the introduction two years ago of the Kent Permit Scheme, which requires companies to apply for permission to dig up a road.

This allows KCC to manage and co-ordinate works – getting firms to work at the same time instead of digging holes separately – minimising jams and delays suffered by motorists and other road users.

The permit scheme also allows the council to apply conditions on road works, such as increasing the number of gangs, lengthening the hours worked each day, restricting work to holiday periods, and working a seven-day week, to make sure the job gets done in the shortest possible time.

It has cut the duration of road works by one day in every 20, according to a report published into the scheme’s first year.

For further information on the 12-week Kent Lane Rental scheme consultation go to www.kent.gov.uk/kentlane2012.

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