CHESHIRE East looks set to consult on plans for a lane rental scheme which could see utility companies charged up to £2,500 ‘rent’ a day for digging up roads to carry out repairs.

The scheme, which has been trialled and operates in some areas in the south of England, allows highways authorities to charge companies for the time that street and road works occupy their busiest routes.

It would not apply to all roads, as charges are focused on the very busiest streets at the busiest times.

The aim is to reduce disruption caused by the works.

The suggestion that Cheshire East should introduce the scheme, was first put forward by Conservative group leader Janet Clowes when the corporate policy committee was discussing the budget proposals in February 2023.

Northwich Guardian: Cllr Janet ClowesCllr Janet Clowes (Image: Cheshire East Council)

She said the scheme would pay for itself, in that the funds raised would also pay the officers who actually implement it.

“I think that’s something we can really look at straight away and bring on this financial year,” Cllr Clowes said at the time.

More than a year later, the matter is due to be discussed at Thursday’s (April 5) meeting of the highways and transport committee.

The committee will be asked to finalise development of a lane rental scheme, conduct a consultation about the proposed scheme and, following the consultation, refer back to committee for approval prior to applying to the Secretary for State.

The report to next week’s meeting states: “Cheshire East Council is proven to have a well-run street works permit scheme that delivers multiple objectives in an effective manner.

“However, under the scheme there are no costs associated with the length of the works and no financial or commercial incentives for works promoters to complete works in a shorter duration or outside of traffic sensitive times.”

It continues: “Department for Transport trials have demonstrated that impact on works duration and operating at traffic-sensitive times are correlated to charging.

“Maximum impact was achieved when the maximum charges are applied.

“Trials indicated that the duration of works could potentially reduce by up to 50 per cent.”

The highways and transport committee meeting takes place at 10am on Thursday, April 4 at Macclesfield Town Hall.