Apply for a licence to place or maintain cables or pipes or to excavate in the road

Section 50 and Section 171 Licences

Only utility companies and the highway authority (the council) have a legal right to dig up the roads (including footways and verges) and to place and maintain pipes and cables in or on it.

However, as a private individual or a non-utility company you can apply for a licence under Section 50 of the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 (NWRSA). This allows you to place and maintain a specific piece of cable, pipe or similar in the road. If you need to excavate in the road for some other purpose you will require consent under Section 171 of the Highways Act 1980.

Typically, you will need a competent contractor who has relevant experience to carry out the necessary works.

There are a number of requirements that you and your contractor will have to fulfil. Details of these requirements can be found in the notes for guidance which is provided with the application form.


Charges are:

  • section 50
    • £481 for a Street Works Licence to place new apparatus in the highway
    • £308 for consent to work on existing apparatus in the highway
    • additional inspection fees of £150 apply to works for any second and subsequent unit of inspection as defined in NRSWA
  • section 171
    • £359 for a Consent to excavate in the highway
    • additional inspection fees of £72 per week apply for longer than works two weeks
    • additional inspection fees of £62 for final inspection of remedial works if required.

A further charge of £7 is made if an invoice is requested. This is to cover our administration costs


Return the completed application form, together with associated information and payment to our highways team as indicated in the notes.

We need to receive your application at least five weeks before the date you propose to start work. However, in some cases we will need up to three months’ notice because of the traffic management required. 

Section 50

Section 171

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