Local authorities are being urged to issue permits to utility companies to limit the disruption caused by roadworks and cut congestion in towns and cities.
Permit schemes cover works on all local roads and can be complemented by lane rental, where utility companies are charged daily for digging up the busiest roads at peak times.
According to government, around 65% of authorities now have a permitting scheme in place, with the remaining 35% being urged to adopt the measure to tackle congestion.
Permit schemes, which were introduced in 2010, give councils more control over roadworks.
Through the measure, local authorities can add conditions to the roadworks, such as the time when works can start and end, limits on the number of days they can be in place and where equipment should be stored, to ensure disruption is kept to a minimum.
Councils may also charge a fee to cover the administration costs of permits.
A report published today, following research on the effectiveness of the measure carried out by the consultancy firm Ecorys suggests that permitting schemes help reduce the length of disruption from roadworks by more than three days.
Roads Minister Jesse Norman said: “Roadworks are the bane of drivers’ lives, causing delays and costing the UK economy £4.3 billion a year.
“Permit schemes are proven to reduce the length of roadworks, allowing motorists to have fewer disrupted journeys and reducing the burden on businesses.
“More councils should look at adopting permit schemes, as well as lane rental schemes in due course, to help drivers get to work and visit friends and family quickly and safely.â€?
Plans have already been announced to for the nationwide rollout of lane rental schemes later this year which will see companies charged up to £2,500 a day to carry out works on busy roads (see airqulitynews.com story).
Pilot lane rental schemes in London and Kent have seen congestion on the busiest roads drop, the government has said.
According to DfT, around 2.5 million roadworks are carried out each year.