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Street works

It is part of our statutory duty to maintain a safe and reliable electricity distribution network. That frequently involves investment in the network, which in many cases involves essential street works. 

We have to dig up roads for four main reasons:

  • Maintaining the safety, security and reliability of the electricity network
  • Connecting new customers’ premises to electricity
  • Extending and upgrading the network to meet changing needs
  • Rerouting the network to assist infrastructure and urban regeneration projects   

Every year, we need to carry out more than 100,000 excavations. To carry these out as efficiently and considerately as possible, we communicate with the relevant local authorities and the Highways Agency before starting any works in roads or footways.

This often helps to co-ordinate works between us, other utilities and themselves, and keep disruption to a minimum, which is also one of the requirements under the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 and the Traffic Management Act 2004.

The Traffic Management Act 2004 is designed to allow local authorities and the Highway Agency to improve the flow of foot and motorised traffic. Its main provisions include:

  • Extending the period of notification before work in the road or footway can be carried out
  • Placing restrictions on dates, times and locations of apparatus installation
  • Introducing ‘permits to work’ schemes run by local authorities and Highway Agency

It is therefore very important that anyone requesting installation/connection of services within the road or footway from utility companies gives adequate notice of requirements. Failure to do so will result in the local authorities and Highway Agency not granting permission for the time requested.

Public and staff safety is our highest priority and staff will have received training on the Safety at Street Works and Road Works Code of Practice.

This details the strict safety requirements for signing, lighting, guarding and maintaining the work site.

The environmental impact of street works is a major concern to UK Power Networks. Apart from any increased noise level or damage to trees and area surrounding the excavation, we carefully manage the disposal and recycling of excavated waste materials.

From the excavations that we carry out over the year, we remove more than 170,000 tons of spoil, the vast majority of which is now recycled. As a consequence, we have less need to import new material and are currently sending less than two per cent of our excavated material to landfill.

We are continuing to work with our partners to further increase the volume of recycled materials used and reduce the volume of excavated material to landfill.

UK Power Networks plays a leading role in a number of national groups, including the National Joint Utilities Group (NJUG), the Highways Authorities and Utilities Committee (HAUC) UK, the Energy Networks Association (ENA) and working parties chaired by the Department for Transport.

By working at a national level, we demonstrate our commitment to the highway authorities on effective street works management.

We have shown our support for the NJUG Vision for Street Works and are working with the other stakeholders to make this a reality. For further information on the NJUG Vision, please visit the NJUG website at

The government are approving local authority lane rental scheme with the objective of reducing congestion on the roads and cycleways.

The schemes only target the most critical roads and locations and if our works impact upon these locations a charge of up to £2500 per day is charged by the local authority whilst we are occupying the road or cycleway.

We endeavour to try and avoid these locations for new connections but this may not always be possible because of the location of our power cables. Download more information:

Transport for London lane rental scheme [pdf]