New Roads and Street Works Act 1991: Code of Practice for the Co-ordination of Works in Roads

Chapter 1 Introduction

The New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 (NRSWA) as amended by the Transport (Scotland) Act 2005, supported by relevant Regulations and Codes of Practice, provides a legislative framework for all 'works in roads' in Scotland. This includes road works by undertakers (utility companies) and works for road purposes by road works authorities - to the extent that these must be co-ordinated by the road works authorities.

The aim is to balance the statutory rights of road works authorities and undertakers to carry out works with the expectation of road users that disruption from works shall be kept to a minimum.

The Scottish Ministers have approved this code under the powers to approve or issue codes of practice in the following sections of NRSWA:

  • Section 115(4) - the power of road works authorities to give directions as to the timing of road works
  • Section 115A(8) - the power of road works authorities to give directions as to the placing of apparatus
  • Section 117(9) - restrictions on works following substantial works carried out for road purposes
  • Section 118(3) - the duty of road works authorities to co-ordinate works
  • Section 119(2) - the duty of undertakers to co-operate with road works authorities and with other undertakers.

Practical guidance is given on undertakers' and road works authorities' responsibilities with regard to road works.

The effective co-ordination of road works is one of the most important aspects of road works legislation, benefiting road works authorities, undertakers and road users alike. NRSWA sets out the duties of the road works authorities when co-ordinating and undertakers when co-operating with them to:

  • ensure safety;
  • minimise inconvenience to people using a road, including a specific reference to people with a disability; and
  • protect the structure of the road and the apparatus in it.

That duty for road works authorities extends to co-ordination in appropriate cases with other road works authorities where works in a road for which one authority is responsible affect roads for which other authorities are responsible. This will, by definition, include road managers where appropriate. Undertakers shall use their best endeavours with regards to the execution of road works, to co-operate with the road works authority and one another.

This Code of Practice is intended to help road works authorities carry out their duty to co-ordinate works in the road under section 118 of NRSWA, and undertakers to fulfil their duty to co-operate in this process under section 119 of NRSWA. In undertaking these duties to co-ordinate and co-operate, the road works authorities and undertakers shall be required to undertake all of their duties under NRSWA and supporting regulations and to apply any guidance provided in any other Codes of Practice issued or approved under NRSWA or such practice as appears to the Scottish Road Works Commissioner to be desirable.

The key principles for road works authorities and undertakers are:

  • ACCURATE INFORMATION - most notice periods specified in the legislation and regulations are minimum periods. Longer periods of notice should be given whenever possible, and notice information should be updated at the earliest possible opportunity;
  • COMMUNICATION - regular communication between road works authorities and undertakers is vitally important. Local Road Authorities and Utilities Committee (RAUC) liaison meetings between road works authorities, undertakers and other interested parties play a central role.
  • FLEXIBILITY - the need to balance the potentially conflicting interests of road users and undertakers' customers. Recognition that work programmes and possibly working practices may have to be revised to deliver well coordinated works.

This code was prepared by a Road Authorities and Utilities Committee (Scotland) (RAUC(S)) Working Group comprising representatives from local roads authorities and undertakers and was chaired by the Scottish Road Works Commissioner. It was the subject of extensive consultation with relevant organisations.

This Code of Practice has been approved by Scottish Ministers and comes into operation on 1 April 2013.

The Scottish Road Works Commissioner has agreed to keep this code under review. If you have any comments or suggestions regarding this code, these should be forwarded to the Commissioner.