A government scheme that sees utility companies charged for digging up busy roads is set to be rolled out nationwide after successful trials in Kent and London.

The so-called ‘lane rental’ schemes charge businesses such as water and electricity suppliers up to £2,500 per day if they carry out works on busy roads at peak times.

The scheme is designed to encourage firms to work on quiet roads or at different times of day, and even to collaborate with other companies to reduce the amount of projects.

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According to the Department for Transport (DfT), the pilot schemes in the south-east of England have reduced congestion on the busiest roads, and the DfT expects other councils to begin rolling out the schemes at the end of 2019.

Transport minister Jo Johnson said: ‘Drivers often see red when roadworks cause them delays, especially if no one is working on them. Lane rental has seen a massive drop in disruption to drivers as utility companies have changed when and where they carry out work. Now we want millions of motorists around England to get the same benefits.’

The RAC described the announcement as ‘very welcome’, saying the schemes should help address motorists’ concerns about journey times.

‘While motorists accept that some roadworks and congestion are unavoidable, lengthy and unnecessary queues are incredibly frustrating,’ said Nicholas Lyes, the RAC’s head of roads policy.

‘RAC research suggests congestion on our roads and journey time reliability are growing concerns for motorists so introducing lane rental should encourage better planning and coordination of roadworks, and mean utility works are completed in a swifter, more efficient manner.

‘Trials showed that some of the worst congestion caused by planned utility works in London was reduced by half on roads where lane rental was in operation, so rolling this out will extend the benefits nationwide.’