The Department for Transport has announced plans to make major changes to permit scheme regulations – one the key local authority tools for managing street works to reduce local congestion - by 1 October 2015.
Further to a consultation in the autumn last year, the Government this week announced plans to amend the Traffic Management Permit Scheme (England) Regulations 2007 and has launched a further consultation on whether the changes should come into effect by the Autumn for all permit schemes.
A permit scheme means those carrying out street works must request permission and a time-slot for carrying out work instead of just notifying the councils, allowing for works to be coordinated to prevent multiple openings on the same stretch of road in close succession.
Major changes to the regulations include the requirement for authorities to publish an evaluation of the permit scheme every year for the first three years and then to publish an evaluation every three years of operation thereafter.
The DfT will also clarify in its amendments that a permit authority may not charge twice for a lane rental scheme and a permit scheme - although a permit would still need to be applied for and granted.
A further amendment will require schemes to offer an additional specific discount for works taking place wholly outside of traffic-sensitive times.
Changes will also be carried forward to enable ‘electronic communication’ as a means of enabling the receipt and issuing of permits and for an authority to set out the grounds that would be used for refusing a permit. However the wording behind these changes is being reconsidered.
DfT officials said they would also take forward an amendment that requires a permit authority to refund the full permit fee where they have cancelled it at no fault of the applicant.
Proposals to require a permit authority to remove from their record systems any fixed penalty notices that have been withdrawn will not be taken forward however, after councils raised concerns that such records needed to be kept.
These changes are in addition to plans put forward in the Deregulation Bill to remove the requirement for the secretary of state for transport to approve schemes in England – instead they will be approved by a council’s own order.
Schemes in Wales will still be approved by the appropriate national authority.