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A permit scheme could be introduced in County Durham this spring, which is aimed at reducing the disruption caused by street works.

Whether the permit scheme is brought into effect or not rests on if councillors decide to approve the proposal. The Durham Roads and Street Works Scheme will be discussed by Durham County Council’s cabinet, who will be asked to endorse the scheme when they meet today.

If the proposal is approved, those who wish to carry out work on County Durham’s roads would need to apply for a permit and include details of the proposed location, the nature of the work, the extent of highway to be occupied, duration of the works, traffic management required and any mitigation measures to be undertaken.

This information would then be assessed by the council, who would either refuse, grant or request modification of the works. The permit would come charged with a fee, with the income it generates to cover the cost of the scheme.

There is also the possibility that conditions will be imposed on workforces, for example, the type of traffic management used or a limitation on working hours.

Introducing a permit scheme would mean that the council’s highways team would have the ability to manage the amount and duration of works taking place on County Durham’s roads at any one time. As a result, travel disruption and carbon emissions in the county would be reduced, while also helping to support local economic growth.

Implementing this scheme will also improve the quality and promptness of information issued to the public before work begins. This would encourage a more collaborative approach to planning and work between the council and the utility companies. 

Cabinet member for neighbourhoods and local partnerships at Durham County Council, Councillor Brian Stephens commented: “Introducing a permit scheme would give us additional tools to co-ordinate street works taking place across the county.

“This would be incredibly beneficial as it would help to keep our roads moving, ensuring those who live, work and visit can travel around the county and conduct their business easily.”

The Traffic Management Act 2004 granted all local authorities the power to introduce permits as an alternative to existing noticing systems. While there is not a statutory duty to operate a permit scheme, in 2018, the Secretary of State for Transport asked all highway authorities to consider introducing them by March 31 2020.

Durham County Council is one of ten North East authorities who have decided to develop one of these schemes.

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