North Yorkshire County Council proposes to introduce a permit scheme to improve its control and management of work across the county's road network to reduce congestion and improve traffic management.
Consultation on the proposal is under way and a scheme is expected to be introduced in November.
Currently, utilities organisations, such as gas, electric, telecoms and water companies, must notify the County Council of any work they intend to carry out on the highway. The council can offer direction and apply penalties if a company breaches the notice, but has limited control over when work is done.
The permit scheme will increase the County Council's control. The council will authorise all works on the highway and will have greater ability to ensure that works in the same area do not clash and that where possible jobs are done outside peak times of the day or avoid particularly busy times of year. It will also be able to impose conditions, such as requiring equipment and signs to be removed quickly after work is completed.
Any variation to a permit will also need to be approved by the County Council, which will be able to impose penalties for breaching conditions or working without a permit.
Companies will pay a fee for a permit, with the charge varying depending on the scale of the work.
Discounts will give companies an incentive to carry out work outside of peak times and to collaborate with other utilities that need to do work in the same area. The fees have been calculated to cover the cost of running the scheme and in accordance with national guidance. The County Council will also be able to monitor more closely the quality of reinstatement of the highway surface carried out by utility companies.
Barrie Mason, the County Council's Assistant Director for Highways and Transportation, said: "It is about better control and management of the road network with a view to reducing congestion and delays and, as a result, reducing emissions.
"The scheme won't necessarily mean there will be fewer works on the road. We recognise that these works are essential to deliver the services provided by utility companies. The aim is to ensure these are done with the least impact. The council will be able to develop its controls to ensure works are carried out in a way that minimises inconvenience to road users and, over time, we would expect to see works on the road for shorter periods."
The County Council is consulting utility companies and other interested stakeholders to seek views and questions. From the responses, it will consider whether any changes are needed to the permit scheme. Anyone can contribute to the consultation, which can be found online at www.northyorks.gov.uk/consultations. It will close at 5pm on Monday, 7 August, 2017.