Under the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 (applying to England, Wales and Scotland) a street works licence has to be obtained from the relevant highway authority before any work to install, maintain or alter apparatus in the highway is permitted, except emergency work. The ICE Conditions of Contract state that the employer will obtain this licence, but that the contractor must comply with all other requirements of the Act and any conditions attached to the licence (Clause 27). The contractor has to give notices as required by the Act and the Street Works (Registers, Notices, Directions and Designations) Order 1992. Notice to start work must be given at least 7 working days in advance, and the work must be started within 7 days of the notified starting date. The Street Works (Qualifications of Supervisors and Operative) Regulations 1992 require a qualified supervisor and at least one qualified operative to be full time on site. Road reinstatement requirements are set out in the Street Works (Reinstatement) Regulations 1992 and a Code of Practice issued by the Secretary of State.
A highway authority can direct the timing of works, require safety measures and stipulate avoidance of unnecessary delay or obstruction. Astandard charge for inspections can be made and the authority can also charge for the occupation of a highway where works are unreasonably prolonged, and for the cost of temporary traffic regulation.
The highway authority is required to keep a register of street works; this can be of use to the contractor but, in the nature of things, it may not show every service that lies underground nor provide exact information as to its position. Ahighway (termed a ‘street’ in the 1991 Act) normally means all the land between the boundaries of private properties fronting on a public road, that is, including the road verges.
The diversion of existing services often requires joint action by the agent and resident engineer. If need be, the resident engineer should arrange for meetings with the district engineers of the authorities concerned, for example, county or district roads department, gas, water, sewerage, electricity, telephone and TV cable authorities. The resident engineer must see that the reasonable requirements of the various authorities are complied with by the contractor; on the other hand he should help to resist any unreasonable requests being put upon the contractor. Most authorities prefer to divert their own services; many will not permit a contractor to undertake diversion of their equipment. Similarly with respect to final road reinstatement, the road authority has power to do this and may prefer to do so. A common requirement of a road authority is that a trench for a pipeline, sewer, etc. laid along a road must be at least 1 m away from the road edge (i.e. fully in the road or fully in the verge), except where it has to cross below a road edge.