Utility companies could be better held to account for poor road repairs that cause potholes, potentially saving councils millions.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has launched a consultation on plans to force utility companies to fix potholes forming within five years of their roadworks being carried out.
More than half a million potholes were reported by the public to councils in Britain for repair in 2017 – an increase of 44% on two years earlier, according to the RAC.
And last March research by Cycling UK showed that local authorities had spent at least £43.3m dealing with compensation claims and legal costs due to potholes over the previous five years.
The eight-week Specification for the reinstatement of openings in highways consultation will propose raising the minimum guarantee from the current two years to up to five years, and will also introduce new asphalt standards.
Mr Grayling said that road surfaces can be made worse by utility companies, so imposing higher standards on repairs will help keep roads pothole-free for longer.
“The proposals also allow for new innovative surfacing to be used, such as asphalt with a high bitumen content that is easier to compact to the required density,” he said. “This makes it less prone to potholing.”
New road surfaces and technologies are currently being tested in eight areas as part of the government’s £22.9m Live Labs projects. They include expanding the test of plastic roads in Cumbria, using kinetic energy off Buckinghamshire roads to power lighting and using geothermal energy to keep car parks and in Central Bedfordshire bus stations from freezing over.
Last year, the Department for Transport announced that English councils could introduce Lane Rental schemes, where utility companies are charged up to £2,500 a day to dig up busy roads to reduce the duration of roadworks.