Strategic Consultation on Works on Scottish Roads Analysis of Consultation Responses



1.1 This report analyses and summarises all of the responses that were received to the 'Strategic Consultation on Works on Scottish Roads' which was launched in April 2013 with a three month period open for responses. This was the first major consultation on road works since 2003, and the first since the Scottish Road Works Commissioner was appointed in 2007.

1.2 The Scottish Road Works Commissioner's office was established to monitor works in roads and to promote good practice. The first Commissioner was appointed in 2007, following the creation of the post as part of the Transport (Scotland) Act 2005. As part of this consultation, the Commissioner worked with the Scottish Road Works Policy Development Group to identify potential improvements to the planning, co-ordination and quality of Road Works. The consultation sought views on a range of proposals that had been considered by the Scottish Road Works Policy Development Group, though it did not commit Scottish Ministers to abide by its findings, and also included specific issues raised by the Minister for Transport and Veterans.

1.3 Road works are principally undertaken for two reasons, either by roads authorities to repair, renew or improve roads; or by utility companies to place, repair, renew or improve their pipes and cables. Road works are undertaken in Scotland under the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 (NRSWA), as amended by the Transport (Scotland) Act 2005. The legislation defines roads authorities as 'road works authorities' and places them under a duty to co-ordinate road works including those undertaken by utility companies or 'undertakers' for the purposes of the legislation. Utility companies have statutory rights to place, repair, renew or improve their pipes and cables in roads, subject to meeting certain duties. It is inevitable that works in roads will be required to ensure that the structure of roads and the pipes and cables located in the road are well maintained.

1.4 Transport Scotland launched the consultation on 9 April 2013, with the aim of introducing further improvements to works on Scottish roads. The aims of the consultation were to:

  • Improve the safety of those who use or work on roads;
  • Minimise the disruption and inconvenience caused by works; and
  • Protect the structure of roads and the integrity of the pipes and cables under them.

1.5 The strategic consultation covered six policy areas. It did not propose specific legislation, but instead sought views on each policy area. The consultation consisted of 33 questions, which were a mixture of those which could be answered 'yes/no' and those which were more open, or sought views on proposals to which there was no stated policy from Scottish Government.

1.6 Section 1 of the consultation sought views on utility companies being required to provide contributions to make good the costs of long term damage. It also explored restrictions in favour of the minimum period from a new road surface being laid to when new road works can occur; and explored changes to inspection arrangements including the introduction of new levels of fees, and extending guarantee periods post-works on roads. The second section considered a range of approaches to improving the time taken to complete works, including occupation charges, permit and lane rental schemes. Section 3 covered issues of compliance and enforcement, including questions on the operation and levels of fixed penalty notices. Section 4 covered a range of current and proposed legislation, including safety at road works, record keeping, and legislative definitions. Section 5 covered co-ordination of road works, particularly looking at advance notice periods and early starts, and also issues of traffic sensitive and non-traffic sensitive roads. Section 6 invited responses on 'other' issues not covered directly in the consultation, and also invited comments on innovation and financial implications of the possible introduction of various proposals set out in the consultation document.

1.7 The consultation was distributed to 88 different organisations including the 35 utility companies and 33 roads authorities that operate in Scotland, as well as being made available on the Transport Scotland website.

Overview of responses

1.8 In total, 50 responses were received, 49 from organisations and one from an individual. As part of the analysis process, responses were assigned to groups. This enabled analysis of whether differences, or commonalities, appeared across the various different types of organisations that responded.

1.9 Table 1.1 presents a list of respondents by group. As can be seen, most organisational responses came from local authorities (acting as roads authorities and the bodies that represent them). The next most common type of respondent was utility companies and related organisations[1]. 'Other organisations' refers to those which had no affiliation with the two main groupings.

Table 1.1 Consultation responses by group


Group Number

Number of respondents (% of all respondents)

Roads authorities and related bodies


30 (60%)

Utility companies and related organisations


13 (26%)

Other organisations


6 (12%)



1 (2%)

Total Organisations

49 (98%)



1.10 A list of all those organisations who submitted a response to the consultation is included in Appendix 1. One respondent from group two requested that their response remain anonymous. Thirteen responses were received from those not on the original distribution list. Two of these were from group one, four of these were from group two, six of these were from group three and one from group four.


1.11 All responses were read through and logged into a database. Comments given at each question were examined and, where questions elicited a positive or negative response, were categorised as such. In most of the questions, respondents were also asked to state the reasons for their views, or to explain their answer. The main reasons presented by respondents for and against specific proposals were reviewed, alongside specific examples or explanations, alternative suggestions, caveats to support and other related comments.

1.12 Responses that did not fit into the response template were read, and where the content related to an individual question their views were added to the positive or negative totals for the question where appropriate. However, as some questions asked for views on proposals rather than specifically support or opposition to proposals, it was not always possible to ascertain support or disagreement, and this should be considered when reading any proportions mentioned in the reporting. When this occurred, it has been categorised as respondents suggesting an 'alternative view'.

1.13 Lastly, all respondents were responding voluntarily, rather than as a part of a statutory process, or as a part of statistically representative research. This means that the consultation analysis is representative only of the organisations and individuals who responded, rather than of the general public as a whole.

Structure of reporting

1.14 The 'Strategic Consultation on Works on Scottish Roads' was a comprehensive document including 33 individual questions, many of which included sub questions. It was therefore important to employ a consistent approach to analysis across each of the 33 questions to ensure that all relevant points raised by all groups were considered. Each question therefore starts by outlining response numbers, then summarises key themes - three themes which were cited most often by respondents. It then goes on to outline the main reasons for supporting a proposal, followed by any caveats to this support, issues/concerns or suggestions, the main reasons for opposing a proposal are then outlined, followed by any other comments. Lastly, each section discusses any significant differences in response themes between the groups.

1.15 Where appropriate, verbatim comments are included to illustrate points made, or themes. Only quotes provided by those who gave permission for their responses to be made public have been used in the report.